Souvenirs of Star Children
Star children: honoring memories, creating memories, and honoring the parent-child relationship
"Hooray! We're pregnant!" - expectant parents often announce to friends, family and neighbors early in the pregnancy. Everyone joins the couple in looking forward to their offspring. But only mom and dad usually have a real emotional relationship with the mini-human.
If the child dies before it is born or dies during birth, a world collapses for the parents. The environment often stands helplessly by and remains silent out of helplessness. The topic is still a taboo today. But: Parents of star children need comfort, conversations and memories of their child.
What are star children?
Star children are children who have died while still in the womb or who die during or shortly after birth. Other names for these children include butterfly children, angel children or silent miracles.
The idea behind these very poetic names is that although these children were never allowed to see the light of day or never set foot on the ground of this world with their own feet, they are eternally children of heaven.
Every year, around 700,000 babies see the light of day in Germany. In addition, there are an estimated 90,000 to 180,000 star children. This is because up to 25 percent of all pregnancies end tragically: depending on when the children die and how much they weigh at the time, they are referred to as miscarriages or stillbirths.
Despite the high number, these star children are largely invisible in our society. The subject is treated as a taboo topic in Germany.
Even though much has improved in recent years and a culture of appreciation and remembrance is gradually developing, there is still a lot of catching up to do.
Initiatives such as the Association for the Cause of Heart - Sewing for Starlets and Premature Babies e.V., which is supported by MeinBabyposter, would like to help shape and keep alive the memories of these children.
Shaping memories and creating keepsakes
When a child is born and begins life, parents and baby are inundated with birth gifts and cards. Presenting a gift for the birth of a star child is, of course, very delicate, as it is also the anniversary of that child's death
On the other hand, a gift chosen wisely can be a manifestation of the fact that this child existed. And this is exactly the confirmation that most star parents desire. Such gifts may include a weatherproof toy that can be used to design the grave.
A star child poster, which is a lasting reminder of that child and can be hung at home, is also a reverent gift. Alternatively, a book on mourning can be presented to the star parents.
Coming to terms with grieving for the lost child
For a long time, parents were not given the opportunity to say goodbye to their child. It was assumed that it was better for parents not to see their dead child.
This attitude was based on the assumption that looking at and holding the dead child in one's arms would create too close a bond, making it even harder to say goodbye.
However, parents, especially mothers, usually have an intimate relationship and close bond with their child during pregnancy.
Only since the beginning of this millennium has the treatment of star children and their parents changed: In hospitals, it is now common for parents to be given space and time to say goodbye to their child.And since 2013, there has been the possibility of obtaining a notarized certificate from the registry office for a star child, regardless of the length of pregnancy.
Star children must also be buried at least in a collective grave. In most states, parents also have the right to bury their children in a single grave.
Farewell to the star child in the hospital
If the child is already big enough to be brought into the world in the normal way, hospitals now offer the parents of a star child a room where they can view their child. Parents are allowed to dress and hold the child.
There are also specialized baby photographers, with whom most clinics have contacts, who photograph star babies. These photos are a treasured keepsake for many parents of star babies.
If the parents wish, relatives can also be invited to say goodbye at the clinic. In addition, clinic chaplains are on call to minister to the family.
Mourning together: funeral service and burial
A funeral and a funeral service are ways to welcome the child as part of the family and say goodbye with dignity. Today, most pastors are also willing to attend the funeral of a star child.
There is also usually the option of a funeral with a chaplain if desired for a star child who died before completing twelve weeks of pregnancy.
A funeral to which relatives and close family friends can be invited often makes it easier to talk about the star child.
Cope with grief: Living with the loss
No matter how small or how young the star child was when he or she died, parents have lost a child and must learn to live with that loss. This is even more true if there are already other children in the family who not only need to be cared for, but have lost a sibling themselves.
The first people to talk to when it comes to this grief management are midwives and clinical chaplains. If parents of star children realize they cannot cope with their grief alone, they should seek help from support groups, therapists or at counseling centers.
Consoling Star Parents.
The reactions from the environment of parents of star children range from the well-intentioned "You will certainly get pregnant again very quickly" to "But that was not a child yet." Most parents of star children find terms such as "miscarriage" or "loss of the foetus" to be degrading.
With most people, there is no malicious intent behind such reactions, but fear of saying something wrong.
But basically it is quite simple: the parents have lost a child. They need comfort, support and help to memorialize the star child. But what can comfort for star parents look like in concrete terms?
When a person loses a partner or parent, it is the social consensus to offer condolences to that person. In our society, this means acknowledging the suffering that person is currently enduring.
Parents of star children should therefore be condoled in any case. This can happen in person, with a card or a wreath to the funeral. Comforting sayings for star children we have addressed in another blog post.
Souvenirs of Star Children
The famous German playwright, librettist and lyricist Bertolt Brecht said, "Man is not really dead until no one thinks of him." That's why it's so important for star parents to keep their child's memory alive.
That's why the association Herzenssache, supported by MeinBabyposter, has created a place of remembrance to commemorate star children. This place of remembrance is located on the on the cemetery Wandlitz/OT Schönwalde.
Here a memorial stone with memory leaves of bronze was erected for the star children. At a tree of silence, which was also planted there by the association, relatives of star children can come to mourn and commemorate.
But since there is not in he every city and in every village such a place of remembrance, can also symbolic places of remembrance create. These can be quite different things:
- Handprint and footprint of the star child
- Photos of the star child
- Photocollage of ultrasound images if it is a very small star child
- Memory boxes with ultrasound pictures, the maternity record, and other items if necessary
- Memory posters like the star child poster
Personalized mementos of star children
Star parents, like all parents-to-be, wanted to take their baby home after birth. But after the birth of a star child, the nursery remains empty, the child never arrives at the parents' home. Many star parents long to give their child a place that is not only in the heart and memory of the parents. Here are many different options for star parents to choose from:
- Star baptism: There is the option to "buy" a star and baptize it. The purchaser of the star will then also receive a certificate and a star map on which the star is located.
- Chain pendant: The name of the star child can be engraved on a chain pendant. So star parents can carry a memento of their child with them at all times.
- Star child poster: This poster can be individually designed with names and, if desired, other data of the child, as well as a desired motif and a freely selected color variant. With this poster a lasting memory moves in at home with the star parents. At the same time star parents with such a poster support the work of the association Herzenssache.
- Choosing a selection results in a full page refresh.
- Press the space key then arrow keys to make a selection.