Lyndsey is mum of 3 beautiful children, Ieuan, Evalyn, and Iola. Evalyn is their star in the sky. She shares her experience on parenting after loss by answering the questions often asked by the baby loss community.
How did you explain your loss to your children?
I still think telling my son, Ieuan, that Evalyn had died was the hardest moment of my life after her loss itself. We told ourselves that we would be honest with him. We didn’t want to use words or terms like “sleeping” or “gone away.” This can also develop anxiety in children associating with these words. So, we told him the truth.
I remember so vividly sitting him down on the sofa and Nick telling him these words. “You know the baby? Well, we have to tell you something that will make you very sad. The baby in mummy’s tummy very sadly died. She wasn’t poorly or sick, but sometimes babies can’t come home, and it’s not because we did anything wrong. It’s just what happened.
But our baby was a little girl, and we call her Evalyn, and we still love her very much even though she’s not here. You’re still a big brother. You always will be. We just have to love our baby in different ways.”
And we gave him the teddy from her memory box and told him that Evalyn wanted him to have it. He cried. We cried. I hated life at that moment.
Trying to explain loss to a child is incredibly hard. We tried to explain in a way we knew he would grasp whilst setting him up to understand that we wanted him to ask questions about his sister and to talk about her. And to know that mummy and daddy may cry at times or look sad, but that’s ok. Tears are also signs of how much we love.
And to love is a beautiful thing.
My toddler still kisses my tummy. I lost his little sister last month. How would you handle this?
I am so sorry for your loss. This question resonates with me so much as my son used to do similar things. He was 4 at the time, and even though we’d explained Evalyn’s passing to him, he would act like she was still in my tummy during those early weeks.
There were times when he would kiss my belly and say, “love you, baby.” There were other times when he would ask, “when the baby comes back, I’m going to show her my teddies.” And it was heartbreakingly hard.
For us, we started by taking a deep breath. And then we would explain to him again. I often found myself saying things like, “Evalyn’s not here, remember? She went to go and live in the sky.
But she loves us very much, and we love her too. And she gave you a teddy to cuddle whenever you miss her. And we can talk about her all the time and look for her in rainbows, and that’s how we’ll always remember and love her.”
Some of these conversations are by far the hardest I’ve ever had in my life. But now I think how beautiful they are too, because they are our way of continuing our family with Evalyn remaining a huge part of it. And that has never changed.
How did you introduce/begin talking to Iola (your baby after loss) about Evalyn?
In a beautiful way, there was never really a point in time when we started to talk about Evalyn with Iola. Evalyn has just always been a part of our family dialogue.
At Christmas, we would let Iola put Evalyn’s stars on the tree. On Evalyn’s birthdays, Iola would help choose a cake.
Once she started to speak and try to say Evalyn’s name, we would get excited and explain Evalyn was her big sister “in the clouds.”
Iola would then go on to call Evalyn her “sky baby.” Rainbows were our hello’s from Evalyn, and Iola recognized them as that.
Iola is now 3. Her understanding of who Evalyn is gaining more depth and knowledge over time. She now understands that Evalyn died, something I explained when she asked if Evalyn can ever come back.
I know there will be more questions. But I feel ready to face them. And it’s been beautiful to watch Iola form her own bonds with her sister, who came before her.
Do you feel that bad things may happen to your other children now?
I can’t lie; the thoughts do surface. But how can they not? When we have been through the unimaginable, anything and everything seems possible. This is a part of parenting after loss, I think. We’re going to worry—a LOT.
But we must also remind ourselves to take a deep breath too. Life can be beautiful. It is not always out to get us.
My daughter is 18 months. When and how do I start talking about her brothers? I want her to always know about them and to speak their names.
When Iola was of that age, we began by introducing Evalyn as an idea rather than trying to explain (which, of course, she was too young to understand). But she knew Evalyn’s name as Evalyn was, and is, mentioned daily in our household.
She had her own “Ela Bear,” which we would refer to as Evalyn’s bear. She subconsciously began to realize that this was a special bear, and in turn, Evalyn must be special too.
We also changed words in nursery rhymes – “Twinkle Twinkle, Evalyn Star, Do You Know How Loved You are?”
And when reading stories that involved siblings, I would always try and add emphasis on Iola’s family tree (“O look! That little girl has a sister too! Just like Evalyn and you!”)
All these little things, in turn, made it easier as she has grown for Evalyn to find her own place in Iola’s heart.
How to get through feelings that all my children couldn’t exist on earthside. That for our daughter to be here healthy and safe, her brother died.
I struggled with this so much. Iola was born 3 weeks after Evalyn’s first birthday, and to say my emotions were everywhere at the time would be an understatement.
Iola was here. Evalyn was not. I felt blessed yet guilty all at once. And Iola was the spitting image of sister. It didn’t feel fair that life didn’t allow me to have them both in my arms.
That I would watch Iola grow knowing that, had Evalyn lived, she wouldn’t exist. Iola is only here because her sister isn’t. That will never be fair.
For a long time, I was angry. In time, I have learned to let some of that anger go. To us, Iola is a gift from Evalyn. Where she couldn’t stay, Iola will carry on for her.
I like to think that somewhere, Evalyn is watching her little sister enjoying a life that she would want her to have. I think those thoughts help ease the hurt. That somewhere, Evalyn knows how much she is loved and a huge part of us, even if she is not physically with us.
Lyndsey is mum of 3 beautiful children, Ieuan, Evalyn, and Iola. Evalyn is their star in the sky. She shares her experience on parenting after loss by answering the questions often asked by the baby loss community. You can follow her journey here on Instagram @afterevalyn, or on Facebook