Everyone deals with grief differently. And one heartbroken mom had a unique and touching way of honoring her child’s memory.
Kim Stephens and Si Down of Cornwall, England, were heartbroken when their fourth child was stillborn in March, the New York Post reports. But Stephens came up with a way she could always keep her late daughter, Olivia-Rose, close to her heart — and in her arms. Stephens had a cast made of her hands, and it was laid in Olivia-Rose’s coffin so that she’d always be in her mother’s arms. The family also placed photos of their other three children in the coffin.
Stephens told the news service SWNS that she had a “4-D scan” of Olivia-Rose just days before her birth, and at that point everything appeared normal. She added that after her daughter’s birth, experts weren’t able to determine what had happened.
“I had casts made of my own hands so I could cuddle her, I wanted to feel like she had me cuddling her forever and I thought that I couldn’t do it any other way. I had casts made of her hands and feet, so I thought it would be a good idea to have casts of my hands made too,” Stephens explained to SWNS. “It makes me feel closer to her, makes me feel like I’m with her still. I’ve got her hand and she’s got mine, it’s like a link.”
The family held Olivia-Rose’s funeral last week, and it was well attended by their local community. The event included a horse-drawn carriage procession with Olivia-Rose’s coffin, and attendees laid pink roses in her honor.
Stephens says that stillbirths are still “a taboo subject” and that she hopes her daughter’s story brings “awareness to the issue.” She joins other moms sharing their experiences with stillbirth, and their stories are vital to the conversation, even if they’re difficult to hear.
A study on stillbirth’s impact published in PLOS One in January saw four themes among grieving parents: “maintaining hope, importance of the personhood of the baby, protective care and relationships (personal and professional).” The funeral and hand cast seem to fall into all of these categories, though no two people’s grieving methods are the same. Stephens found a way to feel connected to her late daughter, even after her funeral.
AmericanPregnancy.org has some suggestions for grieving parents of stillborns, such as dressing them, taking pictures, clipping a lock of hair, recording their measurements, and having them blessed or christened while in the hospital.
As the Centers for Disease Control explains, while there are factors that may increase the risk of stillbirths, the causes are often unknown. And as Dr. Cara Barker wrote in the HuffPost, grief over a lost child can last a lifetime. Stillbirths aren’t as commonly discussed as other topics, which is why stories like Stephens’s are so important.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- My mother lost custody of me. How becoming a sex worker helped me understand why.
- Kylie Jenner is getting mom-shamed for going to Coachella
- This ‘bad mom’ is shutting down her mommy-shamers