Gifts From A Chaplain: Elijahs Bear

January 8, 2017

By Sanda Rathamone

Before we found out we were having a boy, I would name our little one "Baby Bear." Our nicknames had "bear" at the end and how adorable it was to have our little bear family. 

Elijah's bear was given to us from a chaplain at the hospital. The chaplain gave it to us on the day of his birth and passing. It came with heart necklaces that had a set of two -- one set for me and the other for my husband -- and a baby blanket.

I wore the outer heart and Elijah wore the inner heart. In this way, we were connected. You would know that he was my son because we wore the same necklace.

His bear and necklace was with him until the very end, the day we had to let him go [for cremation]. It was with him for at least a few weeks. It's strange that, sometimes, I can feel the very essence of Elijah in his bear. As if his bear can feel and hear the warmth of our arms and every word of our love and prayer. As if his bear became a part of him and a part of us. This bear has now become something we hold very dear to our hearts.

It is the bear I put on top of the pillows after fixing the bed.

I will sleep and speak to it as if he is Elijah. I will call it Elijah's Bear. I will put him on his daddy's chest and give him bear kisses. At times, I will panic if I cannot find him. It now feels uncomfortable if his bear isn't there -- cuddled in my arms -- before I sleep. Like a child, his bear has become my comfort, my soother, and my friend.

It is one of the things that we have left of Elijah.

I will sleep with him for as many nights as I can in my arm. I am not ashamed of it. I am not ashamed of many of the things I do for comfort. Because when you lose your child, absolutely nothing can heal this hole you have in your heart. This hole in the size and shape of this child that no other could fill.

We never had the chance to buy Elijah a bear, but I am very grateful that this one was given to us. I also never had the chance to thank the chaplain either, but wished so much that I did. I wish that I wasn't so angry after just giving birth and death to my son, that I pushed away someone who was only there to comfort us, someone who gifted us something that may be ordinary to another, but so deeply special to us.  

Sometimes, I think of buying a bear for Elijah, but I have this nagging feeling that nothing could ever replace this one. Nothing would ever feel the same way as this bear. Perhaps it was that this bear was with him in a very cold place, to keep him company, safe even. And that maybe his spirit is attached to it.

I don't mind if it is. I don't mind at all. If his spirit is in the bear is what keeps me safe and comforted in this cold world of grief, I am very grateful for it.

In the future, Elijah's bear will be our next baby's bear.

It will be the bear that Elijah's younger brother or sister will go to for comfort, soothing, and a very, very dear friend. It will be such a breathless and heartwarming sight to see the next baby carry Elijah's bear very close to his or her heart.

That is something I look forward to seeing in the near future.

* Read the full story about Elijah:

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