You might have heard of rainbow babies — babies born after pregnancy or infant loss — and sunshine babies — children born before the loss of a brother or sister to miscarriage or stillbirth — but you probably haven't heard about purple butterfly babies. These babies are born in multiple births where one or more of their siblings didn't survive, and these special babies are part of a very specific type of loss that's often overlooked.
A purple butterfly, often found on the side of a baby's crib in a hospital or NICU, is a special symbol created by UK mom Millie Smith to honor Skye — the twin daughter she lost just hours after her birth in 2016. Smith wanted to let people at the hospital know that Callie, her daughter who survived, was part of a set of twins. As Babble reports, Smith's purple butterfly has gone on to adorn cribs and bassinets in hospitals worldwide to let staff and visitors know that those babies lost a twin sister or brother, and to help raise awareness and sensitivity about this specific type of pregnancy and infant loss.
Since starting the Skye High Foundation to raise money for crib stickers in 2016, Smith's purple butterflies have become a way for families to honor their purple butterfly babies and remember the siblings who passed. There’s definitely no a wrong way to grieve the loss of a pregnancy or baby, or to honor your purple butterfly baby who survived, but if you are in need of inspiration, here are some ideas from parents who’ve been there:
Hold A Memorial Service
According to First Candle, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing infant deaths and supporting families through loss, some loss parents decide to hold a memorial service to remember the baby they lost and to receive comfort and support from family and friends. Their website reminds parents that these events are personal and there are absolutely no wrong choices when it comes to coping with grief.
If you decide not to hold a service, you can absolutely remember your baby in other ways via photographs, footprints, locks of hair, or ultrasound images. The nonprofit Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep offers loss families professional photographs of their baby free of charge to help them cope with loss.
Donate To Charity
One way to honor your purple butterfly baby and their lost sibling is to make a donation to organizations that help loss parents cope. Some to consider include Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, First Candle and the Skye High Foundation. You might also consider making a donation to the local organizations that helped you in your time of need, like your local hospital or NICU.
Raise Awareness About Infant Loss
According to october15th.com, raising awareness about pregnancy and infant loss is one way to break the silence about this all too common experience and honor your babies who have died. You might consider attending a local event in honor of pregnancy and infant loss awareness month or even hosting an annual loss awareness event for your own community, in honor of your purple butterfly baby and the sibling or siblings that have passed.
Purchase A Purple Butterfly Blanket
As Babble reports, the foundation is raising funds to donate handmade purple butterfly blankets to hospitals worldwide that will be distributed to loss families and help them cope.
Light A Candle
According to the Skye High Foundation Facebook page, the Wave of Light is a global candle lighting at 7:00 p.m. on October 15 each year. Parents leave their candles lit for at least an hour in remembrance of the babies they've lost.
Set Up A Memory Shelf Or Wall In Your Home
As Babble reports, Smith has set up a memory shelf in Callie’s nursery, including photographs, footprints, and Skye's ashes, to honor her sibling's memory and make sure that she is always with her as she continues to grow.
On Etsy, vendors like the Simple Sparrow have a variety of beautiful memorial statues and wall art to remember the twin babies we've lost, and honor their surviving siblings.