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Marking the loss, making memories

Aim to offer all women and partners information about possibilities for marking their loss or creating memories, while respecting that not everyone will want this.

Women and partners tell us that it can be helpful to have some suggestions for marking their loss should they wish to, but that they don’t want to be made to feel guilty if they’d rather not.

What do we need to do?

In first or second trimester loss

  • Recognise that some women and partners will choose to mark their loss or create memories in some way. Some will appreciate the offer of help to do this and others will not.
  • Do not make assumptions about what she or they might want based on the gestation of their pregnancy but be aware that some options will not be possible with early loss.
  • Allow time for making decisions and for the possibility of changing those decisions.
  • This is especially important if a couple feel differently about marking loss and memories. Note that some options will be time-limited and make clear any time frame for making decisions. Respect the decision the woman and partner make.
  • Depending on the condition of the baby or pregnancy remains, offer the woman and partner the opportunity to discuss:
    • seeing and/or holding their baby or remains, in a suitable container if needed – local or national organisations may be able to supply appropriate resources - offer to describe the (likely) appearance of the baby or remains first
    • a memory box, or similar, appropriate to the gestation or items for a box if they prefer
    • a copy of the scan image, if one is available and it has not already been given to the woman
    • certificate of loss - a template certificate is available
    • entry in a book of remembrance, if available
    • photographs of the baby or remains
    • hand and footprints, if the baby’s condition allows
    • other memories or mementos.
  • Where there is a loss or death in a multiple pregnancy, consider discussing the options for marking the loss with surviving siblings.
  • Consider offering information about other remembrance events within or outwith the hospital or healthcare setting.
  • Complete the informed choice form to indicate that the woman and partner have been offered options, but without pressuring them - a template form ‘Creating memories – offering choices’, is available.

How will we know we have achieved our aim?

Women and partners will tell us they were offered information on marking loss and making memories sensitively and their wishes were respected.

Staff will say they feel confident and competent in offering and discussing possibilities for marking loss and making memories, without making assumptions or imposing their own values.

Go to After the loss

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