When your baby has passed away, it can be helpful and comforting to read books about this situation. It can really give you something to relate to. Below are a number of books and films to read yourself, or to read to your other children. The loss of a brother or sister is also a very profound experience for them and these books may help to talk about it and to give some form of meaning to the loss together.
On the help card about making memories, it says that you can read a book to your baby. That can be any book, of course, but Anja Dalhuisen has written a special book for it. It is called ‘Dag liefje’ (‘Goodbye dear’) and can be ordered here. She talks about it in this video.
Title: Mama voor altijd (Mummy forever)
Author: Sophie Verhoeven
“After the loss of Job* after 23 weeks of pregnancy, my deepest need was to hold on to my memories of him and my love for him. In the first chaotic and capricious mourning period, I was looking for something to hold on to in order to give my thoughts and emotions a place. My search did not yield many answers. ‘Grief is different for everyone, do what feels right for you’, I often heard. But what feels right in this rollercoaster of emotions? What suits me? I couldn’t think of it and really wanted someone to give me direction. To keep my experiences from the pregnancy and after losing Job* together, I wrote in my nine-month pregnancy diary. Between the happy pictures I wrote about my sadness. From there the idea arose for the entry book Mama voor Altijd. A workbook to help give mothers a bit of grip and direction in a sad and raw period after the loss of their child. The workbook has twelve chapters. From pregnancy to the way you remember your baby. And from taking care of yourself to getting back to work.
Each chapter contains guiding questions, a text about my own experience, exercises and especially blank pages. You can write, draw, cut or paste into it. As you wish. To capture your loving feelings for your child. Forever.
Title: Liefdevol Herinneringsboek (Loving Remembrance Book)
Author: Renée Brouwer
Every star-child deserves his or her own story. Your children too. However, it can be quite difficult to write it down. Because where do you start? And how do you tell that despite the great sadness and pain, you are also very proud of your deceased children? With this workbook, you can do it step by step.
Give all the echoes you have a nice spot, paste photos and write about your children using a lot of open questions. Tell them how much they mean to you and make your own valuable tribute to your dear little ones.
Author: Nicole in ‘t Zand Illustrator: Niels van den Berghe
Saar has been waiting for her little sister for some time now. She will be very happy when Liv finally arrives. She is just not allowed to see her yet because Liv has become very ill…. Saar sees that everyone around her is sad but she doesn’t understand it at all, Liv is here now, isn’t she? When Liv dies, this is completely incomprehensible to Saar. They have to say goodbye, but what is that really?
Title: Mijn kleine grote zus en Mijn kleine grote broer (My little big sister and My little big brother) Author: Sanne Ovaere
Illustrator: Sofie Buydens
A beautiful hardcover booklet for the littlest ones. In a soft, light and childlike way, it tells about how a big brother in the clouds plays a role in the life of a little brother or sister. My little big brother/sister is written in rhyme and contains imaginative, funny illustrations of how little big brother/sister secretly helps out every time or shows his presence in small signs. Thanks to its solid design and fun pictures, it is ideal for children from 1 to 6 years old.
Title: Ono, een bijzonder broertje (Ono, a special little brother
Author: Hannelore Waeles Illustrator: Sara Gerard
“Ilo is very much looking forward to the birth of the baby in mommy’s belly. He is so longing to play with his little brother. But at birth, Ono turns out to be a very special little brother. A little brother who never cries and with whom you can’t play. Ono is dead. After a short, sad, but pleasant time at home, there’s a party for Ono. After that he is suddenly gone. Where did he go? Ilo goes looking…”
Ono, a special little brother can be ordered here.
Title: De vraag van eend (A duck’s question)
Author: Leen van den Berg
Illustrator: Ann Ingelbeen
Where do you go when you are dead? That is the question of duck. It is an important question, because duck has recently lost her chick and her grief is great and endless. Everyone she meets has their own answer to the question that is keeping her occupied.
Title: Bedje in de wolken (Bed in the clouds)
Author: Birgit Vandermeulen Illustrator: Iris Butter
When, in the springtime, Joep’s sister Maike is born too early, it turns out that she can only live for a short time. Very soon daddy, mummy and Joep have to say goodbye to her. They give Maike a thousand kisses and stroke her over her little head. ‘You are my dear sister’, says Joep, ‘and I will never forget you’.
A richly illustrated picture book that helps with the process of loss and coping with the sudden death of a little brother or sister in a family.
Title: Om nooit te vergeten (Never to forget)
Author: Linda Klein Illustrator: Nynke Mare Talsma
‘Imme,’ says Mama, ‘Stippel has died’. Imme is shocked. ‘Stippel wasn’t old at all!’ Mummy sighs. ‘Not everyone dies when they are old.’ Imme is quiet for a moment. ‘Lotte wasn’t old either, grandpa was. I’ll never forget them.’
Title: De gouden ball (The golden ball) Author: Kristien Dieltiens
Illustrator: Seppe Van den Berghe
Somewhere far away, but at the same time nearby, a child lives. It is very happy, until its loses his golden ball. It leaves for earth to search for the ball and is born as a human child. The child grows up with its parents, but one day it finds its ball and returns to where it came from. The mother and father only feel sadness. When they see that the sky has taken on a different shine, a new warmth slowly comes into their hearts.
Reissue with new illustrations of a special story about farewell and loss, but at the same time about the happiness of being human. For everyone from the age of 5 years and up.
Title: Het hart in de fles (The heart and the bottle)
Author: Oliver Jeffers
Once upon a time there was an ordinary girl. One day something happened that made her sad. So she put her heart in a bottle and hung it around her neck. But after that things seemed worse than they had been. Would she know how and when to get her heart back?
The English artist Oliver Jeffers wrote and illustrated a timeless story about love and loss and shows that there is always hope.
Title: Kikker en het vogeltje (Frog and the little bird)
Author: Max Velthuijs
At the edge of the forest lies a little bird. ‘Look, says frog, ‘broken. He doesn’t work anymore’. “He’s asleep,” says little pig. But hare says, ‘He’s dead. “Dead?’ asks frog. What’s that?’ Frog
has found a little bird: he’ll get Piggy, and Duck and Hare also join the group. The latter establishes that the little bird is dead and philosophises: ‘Everyone dies’. The animals bury the little bird and then playfully get back daily routine. A beautiful picture book with water colours in colour and a text, which is excellent for reading to young children.
Title: Mijn zusje is een sterretje (My sister is a little star)
Author: Richard van Lingen and Marjet van der Linde
Peter is happy. His mum is expecting a baby and the 4-year-old Peter is allowed to help prepare the baby’s room. But then his sister is born prematurely. Inge is in hospital with all kinds of little tubes; she is very sick and after a few days she dies. Everyone is very sad, although it is hard for Peter to understand. When can they pick up Inge again? A nicely described story about how to deal with grief in a family. Good to use at school and at home to discuss such a loss with young children. Saying goodbye at home and the funeral are also discussed, where all the adults are sad and quiet, but the children are allowed to dance and sing. With simple, lovely illustrations in soft colours, which go well with the text. Usable edition. The author is a paediatrician-neonatologist. He wrote this story because in his professional practice he received many questions from parents, and there turned out to be no book for this age group that deals with the subject from a non-religious approach.
Title: Dag lief muisje (Goodbye sweet little mouse)
Author: Dromenjager (‘Dream Hunter’)
Woezel and Pip are running through the forest. They are looking for chestnuts. Woezel’s backpack is already almost completely full. “Oh, there’s something there, Pip,” he shouts and points forward. There lies something in the shadow of an old oak tree. It is Mouse. He lies very still. Even his whiskers don’t move. Sensitive and accessible picture book about losing a loved one and saying goodbye within the safe and familiar world of the magic garden.
Title: Het egeltje onder de oude boom (The hedgehog under the old tree) Author: Christianne van Dooijewaard
Hedgehog was born on a beautiful winter’s day. Mum and dad hedgehog were very happy with their baby. Hedgehog grew quite a bit and he got firm spines. But after a few months, mummy hedgehog started to worry. Hedgehog did not play like the other hedgehogs and his spines seemed to get limp.
When Doctor Owl examined hedgehog , it soon became clear that hedgehog was very sick and would not be getting better. And when summer came to an end, Mum and Dad said goodbye to the hedgehog, burying their baby under the thick old tree, on the spot where he had been looking at the leaves so often.
Christianne van Dooijewaard drew on her own experience in writing ‘The little hedgehog under the old tree’. She succeeds in expressing the process of illness and grief emotionally convincingly for young children. Steffie Padmos’ drawings support the restrained atmosphere of the text. She portrays hedgehogs through the seasons in a way that is moving.
Boeken voor volwassenen
Title: Helpen bij verlies en verdriet (Helping with loss and grief) (completely revised edition)
Author: Manu Keirse
Helping with loss and grief has been the standard book on mourning for many years. Twenty years after the publication of the first edition, a completely revised edition is now being published, focusing on new themes such as hidden loss and online mourning, a long chapter on “Pregnancy and Loss” and a chapter on “When childbearing becomes pall bearing”. Using many recognizable examples, Manu Keirse shows how mourning does not mean saying goodbye, but learning to hold on to things differently. The numerous concrete tips for the grieving person and his or her environment make helping with loss and grief a very practical book. Indispensable for everyone who is confronted with loss.
Title: Vingerafdruk van verdriet (Fingerprint of grief)
Author: Manu Keirse
Fingerprint of grief is a precious gift for someone else or for yourself. It is a book you should give to anyone who loses a child, a brother or sister, the partner, a parent, a friend or a dream. It is written not only for those who are struggling themselves, but also for family members, friends and colleagues from whom they expect support on their difficult journey to a new life. It is not a book about death. It is a book about life, about the emotional life of someone who is confronted with the loss of a loved one. It is not meant to be read all at once, or to be read once and put away, but to be taken up again and again.
Title: Sara en Liv (Sara and Liv)
Author: Suzan Hilhorst
Sara and Liv is the poignant portrait of the short lives of two sisters and the impact that their death had on the family. Written in a beautiful, tranquil style and from the special changing perspectives of mother and child, Suzan Hilhorst tells her autobiographical story. Sara and Liv is a more than impressive debut about loss, mourning, hope and happiness and above all an ode to life.
Title: Rouwen na het verlies van je baby (Grieving after the loss of your baby)
Author: Kathy Beckers Mansell
The death of a baby is experienced as shocking in our society, but only with short-term grief as a result, because parents would not or hardly know their child. But as a parent you also lose a part of yourself and your baby’s future. There is a lasting longing for what things would have been like. The loss is for life and has a major impact on the lives of the parents and any siblings. Treatment by professionals and the close relatives of the parents is crucial in coping with the loss. The mission of this book is to contribute to the recognition of the meaningful loss of a baby. Parents, professionals and those around them will feel supported after reading Mourning after the loss of your baby.
Title: Doodgeboren (Stillborn)
Author: Jan Bleyen
Historian Jan Bleyen listened to the experiences of parents of a stillborn baby. He spoke both to people who lost a child fifty years ago and parents who have experienced this recently. This oral history shows how profoundly the handling of stillbirth has changed in half a century. The stories poignantly show that we have begun to experience mourning in a very different way. Stillborn is an empathic and innovative study of a far-reaching, common phenomenon.
Title: Stille baby’s (Silent babies)
Author: Christine Geerinck-Vercammen
The loss of a child, even if it dies before or during birth, marks the life of parents forever. This book aims to help with such a mourning process. Christine Geerinck-Vercammen deals with the theoretical and medical aspects, but she mainly discusses the psychosocial processing of loss, childbirth and saying goodbye. She also discusses the short and long term future of the parents, including in connection with a subsequent pregnancy.
Title: Als je baby sterft (If your baby dies)
Author: M.C.J. Cuisinier
This book is about the loss of a baby during pregnancy or around childbirth. It contains medical information, but also discusses parents’ experiences in detail. How do you deal with it when the baby, whose arrival you were so looking forward to, turns out to have died? What helps and what doesn’t? How do you pick up the thread of everyday life again? Do you ever get over the loss? What can you do if you feel that you are stuck in the loss? How do family and friends react? And how do the care workers you are dealing with react? What does a new pregnancy mean? What happens to parents who lose one of their twins? The book answers these and other questions. It is intended for parents, people around them and counsellors.
Title: Altijd een kind te kort (Always one child short)
Author: Jeannette Rietberg
Other contributor: Maria Pel
Women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant after the loss of their baby face the confrontation between the still recent experience of death and the experience of new life. In their situation, it is difficult to identify with the group of pregnant women who do not have this experience. This handbook covers the different phases: getting pregnant, being pregnant, giving birth, and parenthood afterwards. Good information helps the mother to regain confidence in herself, in her body and in medical care. Care workers also gain insight into the specific problems of these women by offering help for better professional guidance.
Title: En zwijgen was het antwoord (And silence was the answer)
Author: Anneke Avis
“After I gave birth, there was nothing. No coffin, no funeral, nothing to remember him by. Nowadays people have a place, but I do not have place.” Trui Verwers.
For ‘And silence was the answer’ Anneke Avis interviewed mothers and fathers who lost a child around the time of birth in the period 1945-1970. The parents talk about how, against the background of the post-war years, they experienced the loss of their baby. It was best to carry on as if nothing had happened, doctors, family and surroundings thought. There was hardly room for mourning and grief. Unimaginable now, quite ordinary at the time. What was medical care like in those days? Doctors and midwives talk about the fate of these children and how psychosocial care made its appearance in obstetrics and neonatology, where previously only medical-somatic expertise counted. The stories show how mothers and fathers carry this far-reaching event throughout their lives, sometimes with far-reaching consequences.
Paediatrician-neonatologist Joke Kok wrote the foreword.
Title: Het regent in mijn toekomst (It’s raining in my future)
Author: Maria de Greef
When a grandchild dies, grandparents suffer twice: they mourn the loss of their grandchild and feel the pain for their child. A book full of recognition for grandparents who had to go through this.
When a child dies or comes into the world after pregnancy, the grief is unimaginable. For the parents, this loss is profound, but it also affects grandparents very deeply. In order to assist their own child, they often put aside their own grief.
In her work as a grief counsellor, Maria de Greef met so many grandparents who felt unrecognised and unheard in their grief, that she decided to make this book. She interviewed grandparents who lost a grandchild. It became a book full of recognisable elements. The stories offer insight into the difficult process of standing empty-handed, but also allow the reader to share in the warmth and comfort that can be found in families. Many grandparents and grandparents recognise themselves in the interviews. “It’s great that our grief and loss too has now been addressed” is a much-heard response.
Maria de Greef is a professional in mourning care. In addition to mourning therapy, she provides education and advice on processing loss. She has previously published articles in various funeral and occupational health and safety magazines.
Title: Lieve Juul (Dear Juul)
Author: Nathalie van Stijn
Pregnancy is not always a pink cloud. So my pregnancy was far from ideal. A fight against a placenta praevia totalis (placenta in front) eventually became too much for our daughter. She died from the consequences of this condition. I tried to describe the world in which we were and still are. What started out as a diary (out of boredom and because a lot happened that I didn’t want to forget) turned into a book. A book with points of recognition and hopefully support for those who find themselves in a similar situation. Unfortunately these people are… far too numerous.
Title: Kusje in de wind (Kiss in the wind)
Author: Irene van Wesel
Whoever is pregnant lives in another world, makes a journey through the body to the depths of her being. A mother’s contact with an unborn child is pure love. Even before pregnancy is a fact, there is an unbridled longing for the baby that is so welcome.
Those who lose a child are torn away from what is so deeply loved, experience a torn heart that can only look for healing when the absolute nadir is reached. Days of disbelief, numbness and bewilderment give way to painful reality. The fact that nothing will ever be as it was, that no plan can go on as proposed and that there will always be a child that no one sees, but that is real. Every dream of the future fades into the wind, while the dream of your child is also the only thing left for you as parents. You literally stand empty-handed and that hurts a lot.
Yet the sun rose again in our family, the day we could laugh together and pick up life again. Looking back lovingly with a tear, forward with the valuable insights that our heavenly child Lieve* brought with her.
Irene has also compiled several collections of poems: “Kindje in mijn hart” (for Mother’s and Father’s Day) and “Lichtjes vol liefde” (for World Lights Day). The collection of short stories “Liever bij mij” tells the story of 33 parents and couples who lost a child, sometimes several children, during or after pregnancy.
Title: Ik had je gedacht mijn kind (I thought of you, my child)
Author: Casper van Koppenhagen
My pager goes. It’s an outside line: Lau. “Yes, it’s me: I’m going to the hospital now, just a check-up.’ ‘What do you mean, check-up?’ ‘Well, I’m feeling him a bit less today and they’re very cautious if that happens.’
“I thought you were my child” is the story of the young father Casper who loses his sons Lennard and Simon within a year. In both cases shortly after their birth. After a period of deep mourning, Casper and his wife Laura try to get pregnant again. Without success. A long journey of survival follows and eventually they decide to go on as just the two of them. Forthrightly, and without sparing himself, Casper van Koppenhagen describes what he went through. His story is completed with excerpts from the diary of his wife Laura Soudijn. This disarmingly honest and moving book is about desperation and vulnerability, about love and life force. With his story Van Koppenhagen hopes to offer a foothold to parents who have lost a child and people who are undesiringly childless. It also confirms the blessing of having healthy children. Casper van Koppenhagen is a rehabilitation doctor and editor-in-chief of the Dutch Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine. In 2006, he wrote the football thriller “Bram Breedveld, striker of Oranje”. Laura Soudijn is an independent trainer and coach in team development, personal guidance and organisational advice.
Author: P.F. Thomese
‘A woman who buries her husband is called a widow, a man who is left without his wife, a widower. A child without parents is an orphan. But what do you call the parents of a deceased child?’
After the death of his little daughter Isa, P.F. Thomése found himself in deathly quiet rooms, between inexperienced words, which he still had to learn how to write.
Shadow child is the breathtaking story of this search for words. A whole life is turned upside down, every meaning has to be reinvented. If she’s still out there somewhere, then in the language.
Author: Mathijs Lourens
Myla’ is a gripping story about an uncertain period in an ICU department and beyond. Daddy grabs you by the hand and takes you on the emotional roller coaster. He tells how he experienced that time. How he was thrown in the deep but nobody told him how deep it was. All he could do was keep swimming. For himself, for Myla, for his family.
For caregivers who value Family Centered Care, ‘Myla’ is an excellent opportunity to experience up close how a father experiences such a period. He doesn’t mince his words and talks about his deepest feelings.
In addition, the book is there for everyone who wants to support my mission. The proceeds will go entirely to the ACD foundation. This foundation is dedicated to the research into ACD. Nobody deserves to be confronted with the uncertainty and powerlessness that this disease brings with it. Ordering: https://stichtingacd.nl/product/stichting-acd-boek/
Title: Misschien was je vandaag wel geboren (Maybe you would have been born today)
Author: Yvonne Gebbe and David Rozemeyer
Maybe you would have been born today… tells the gripping story of a young couple that during the 20-week echo they discover that their child has a serious abnormality. They decide to terminate the pregnancy. They each experience this in their own way. Yvonne by keeping diaries and David as a photographer, visual. A beautiful document about the mourning and processing of one of the last taboos: the choice to terminate the pregnancy in case of an abnormal result.
About sadness, insecurity, determination, guilt, fear, anger and frustration. But above all about love. Love for the stillborn child that will never be forgotten.
Title: Het leven zonder, het eerste jaar (Life without, the first year)
Author: Juliette Zwaan- Zwagemakers
The first year without Félice is over. It was a tough year. Without her, we went through all the holidays for the first time and all the seasons. We’ve had all the uncomfortable moments, I think, and although I don’t know what the future will bring, I do know that I want to end the first year. For a year I shared stories about my life without Félice. A lot of the stories I wrote, I didn’t share online. To finish the first year, I decided to bundle all my stories in a book.
As time goes on, life without Félice starts to become ‘normal’, whereas I previously thought that that would never be possible. Where during the first months I was afraid that I would never be happy again, I can now say that I am happy again. My first year without Félice was tough. Very hard. It was a year in which I wrote a lot. It had a healing effect for me. One story offers hope, the other is a harsh confrontation with the reality that death is irreversible. There is room for positivity, for joy, for a new life, for a smile but also for a tear.
Title: Jij wordt gekend (You are known)
Author: Floortje Agema
Floortje Agema (1974) is an experienced ritual counsellor. She guides grieving children and adolescents and families, works in a morgue and gives training on loss and mourning. She has the gift to give language to the unmentionable. You are known contains the stories and poems Floortje wrote from her heart for children and adults who had to say goodbye, to events that touched her or that simply flowed from her heart. The comforting poems and stories provide a helping hand when you are seeking something to relate to and recognition for what is stirring in your heart. The book is enriched with beautiful drawings by Sassafras de Bruyn.
Title: Bundeltje gemis (Little bundle of missing)
Author: Ellen Ruperti-Ribbers
Little bundle of missing is a sweet book of poetry for star parents who have to miss their baby. The poetry collection is full of comforting words and recognition. Bundeltje Gemis was created after Ellen’s nephew Josha died one day after his birth. “I started to write to get my own grief off my chest, but especially the grief of his parents. This eventually resulted in a collection of 34 poems about the sadness, the loss, the powerlessness, the pain and the anger, but above all the love you feel when you lose your child”.
Hiske Kuilman did not relate at all to any of the mother and baby magazines after the death of son Hugo. She couldn’t do anything with stories about breastfeeding, cramps or swaddling. She decided to make her own magazine with stories that are recognizable. A magazine that is not only about the enormous sadness, but also about the love and pride you feel. A magazine in which you can find recognition, comfort and practical tips to survive this loss. You can order Hugo Magazine here.
NEL Never Ending Love
A website & glossy magazine full of experiences, advice, inspiration and information by and for the parents of a deceased child – and everyone around them. Because there is so much more than grief alone and love never ends.
The glossy NEL by Maartje Lute can be ordered here.
Romeo is the story of Anne and Mathijs who look forward to the birth of their first child. During the seventh month of pregnancy, the baby turns out not to be capable of sustaining life. They try, each in their own way, to come to terms with the incomprehensible. Anne tries to give her dead child a place in her life, while Mathijs tries to banish him from his memory. They become so isolated in their grief that a gap arises between them.
Film: Return to zero
Return to Zero is based on a true story. Aaron (Paul Adelstein) and Maggie (Minnie Driver), a successful couple expect their first child.
Their lives will be ruined if it turns out that their son died in the womb at the end of the pregnancy. At his funeral the beautiful, comforting words are spoken: “He was never hungry, he was never cold, he experienced nothing but love”.