8 Ways to Honor Your Due Date After Pregnancy Loss

Small plant in the ground with two hands around it. The ground is wet and the background is out-of-focus greenery.

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One of the hardest parts of processing pregnancy loss, especially on your due date, is the disenfranchised grief that surrounds it.

Disenfranchised grief is a natural emotional reaction following a loss that is not openly accepted by society. And although we’ve seen a small shift toward a less stigmatized view of pregnancy loss, largely in thanks to everyday people sharing their stories with friends and family and on social media, the stigma and silence surrounding pregnancy loss still remains. 

Grief can make us feel alone and isolated, and disenfranchised grief can further complicate our healing process which makes a due date an emotionally challenging time. Feelings that range from debilitating heartache to general ambivalence can be expected. It’s important to remember that however you feel on this day is totally OK. Here is a list of meaningful ways, both big and small, to honor your due date after pregnancy loss.

Take a Trip 

Spending time outside of our day-to-day life can bring a new perspective and make room for a much-needed emotional release.

You might choose to go on a solo adventure, with a partner, or a friend. Maybe you want this trip to be rich with new cuisines, cultures, people, and art—an experience to take you out of your normal routine. Or you may want to visit a place that allows for a slower pace, rest, and reflection of what’s transpired. 

Emily F., an educator from Arizona, says, “It was important to my husband and I to honor the memory of the baby we lost by exploring one of our bucket list travel spots. We chose Arches National Park and I’ll never see Delicate Arch without thinking of our baby and that day. That day was so, so difficult for many reasons, but it was the best way we could have spent it.”

Hold a Memorial Service

Memorials can take shape in many ways. First, ask yourself who you want to attend, and include people who make you feel supported. If no one comes to mind, a memorial for yourself or with your partner can be just as meaningful as one with many people. If you don’t have a partner, or your partner doesn’t want to be involved, that’s OK too.

“Make peace with the fact that your partner’s style of grieving may look different than yours, and that’s OK," says Loree Johnson, PhD, a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in fertility counseling. "Not forcing one style of grieving allows for each of you to move through the process in your own way, and ultimately find a compromise that suits you both.”

When it comes to the logistics for a memorial, choose places and activities that feel comfortable and easy to manage. You might want to gather at your home or your favorite park, or in a virtual setting allowing guests from near and far to attend. You may want to play a song, read a poem, or light a candle. A memorial doesn’t have to be complicated or grandiose to be special. 

Get a Tattoo or Piercing

Pregnancy loss can have you wondering how and why this happened. It can feel like your body turned against you in an ultimate act of betrayal and failure.

You may eventually realize, or learn to accept, that you had zero control over the situation no matter how much you thought you did. Tattoos or piercings can be cathartic ways to honor the pain you’ve endured, while exercising control over your body again.

To memorialize my baby, I got a poppy flower tattoo on my left forearm. Whenever I bend my arm, it touches my heart. This was my first tattoo; I never thought I would get one until my infertility journey unfolded the way it did. But getting it on my due day felt so freeing, like I took a little bit of control and ownership of my body back after losing it for so many years to endometriosis, infertility, and IVF. 

Give Yourself a Gift 

Tattoos or piercings aren’t for everyone, but there are less permanent options for displaying a tribute to your baby on your body. Consider gifting yourself a unique piece of jewelry with your baby’s birthstone, birth flower, or name on it as a special way to honor your loss. 

Plant a Tree or Flower Garden 

Putting your hands in the soil and nurturing something to life can be extraordinarily healing. Trees and flowers require care, and in return, they’ll give you a beautiful environment to visit.

Choosing a meaningful plant, like your baby’s birth month flower, is a great way to honor them. If it’s not planting season on your due date, you can plant the seeds or seedlings indoors in pots, and wait until the appropriate time to transfer them outside. 

Create Art 

Art is one of the oldest forms of therapy. You don’t have to consider yourself an artist or even an art admirer to reap the benefits of creative release. Some ideas include taking a pottery or painting class, heading out into nature with your camera, cooking a nourishing meal for yourself, or writing a letter to your baby. 

Ariel Z., an artist from New York, says, “I spent the day in the forest with a journal and wrote down whatever came to me—some words, some drawings. I was alone in silence and beauty, and it was exactly what I needed.” 

Build a Memory Box 

Putting together a memory box that contains your baby’s belongings is a tangible way to honor your loss. Items that you may want to include are sonograms, photographs, locks of hair, footprints, IVF needles, clothes you purchased for them, gifts people gave them—the list is infinite, and anything goes. This is a wonderful opportunity to lean into cultural, religious, or familial traditions.

I have a closet full of saved materials from past infertility treatments and meaningful items that I intended to give my baby. And while it was way too painful for me to sort through all of it on my due date, I fully intend to construct a box that will hold some memories in it that I can keep forever. 

Honor Yourself

As mentioned, there are absolutely no wrong or right ways to honor your due date. And if none of the above options feel right, but doing nothing at all doesn’t feel right either, perhaps honoring yourself in simple ways might be the trick. 

Some options could be taking the day off or clearing your schedule as a way to lighten your load and feel whatever emotions arise. Maybe you want to try to bliss out and feel rejuvenated by getting a new haircut, facial, or massage. You might want to check in with your support network or schedule a therapy session. Or perhaps you want to go on a hike or start that DIY project. Remember, there are no rules. Whatever feels good, do that. 

Nikki R., a healthcare manager from Missouri, says, “Instead of honoring the actual due date, which didn’t feel entirely comfortable, I spent the whole month distracted in self-care mode. I gave myself whatever felt right to me at that moment." And you can, too.

By Sher Castellano
Sher has worked as a professional food photographer and stylist, and recipe developer for national and international food brands, nonprofits, and websites since 2012. Sher is also a passionate and outspoken advocate for childlessness, infertility, pregnancy loss, and reproductive justice.