Trigger warning: This article contains references to death and grief which some may find upsetting.
Bindi Irwin shared a touching tribute to both her late Dad and her unborn child, posting a recreation of a family photo on her Instagram.
The 22-year-old daughter of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin and her husband Chandler Powell are expecting their first child in the coming months, posting their photo along with the original which featured Bindi, her Dad and Mum Terri who was pregnant with younger child Robert at the time.
Bindi was only eight years old when her Dad was killed in a tragic accident, delivering a moving eulogy at his memorial that was well beyond her years.
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While the impending arrival of her baby is undoubtedly joyous, for those who have lost a loved one such occasions can also be tinged with sadness and lingering grief.
Psychologist Eleanor Haley, who is the Program Director and Co-Founder of counselling and resource website ‘What’s Your Grief’ knows all too well the pangs of becoming a parent after having lost one.
According to Haley’s website, “Those who had an – I tell my parent everything – type relationship with their parent may have acutely felt their inability to talk to their parent the moment they realised they were becoming a parent themselves. Whether this is your first child or your fourth, having a baby is a big deal and many people will long for the support of their parent as they begin this journey.”
The idea that a deceased parent will never know their grandchild can be a difficult consideration for some expectant mums and dads, especially if said parent passed during the pregnancy. It can even evoke unpleasant feelings of envy when thinking of or interacting with others who still have both of their parents to turn to.
While it is encouraged to seek counselling if you are experiencing recent grief as you go through pregnancy, there are also ways in which becoming a parent can help keep you connected to your dearly departed.
Finding ways to honour your parent through the birth of your child can help to ease the inevitable sadness of experiencing such a huge life event without one or both of them present.
Making your child’s first or middle name that of your parents (or a derivative of it), keeping clothes and trinkets to pass down and creating a photo book to share with your child or children are all great ways to not only ensure a continued connection with your loved on but also to help your offspring get to know them posthumously.
Keeping someone alive through storytelling can also be a useful tool for finding joy through sadness, so think about some of your favourite memories of your late parent and share them verbally or even write them down to turn into a book for you and your family members.
Like Bindi, many people will find themselves having to also approach big events such as their wedding or graduation without one of their parents present. Ways in which the deceased can be honoured on these occasions include leaving an empty seat for them at the ceremony and/or reception, having a framed photograph of the person you are missing or even carrying their picture in a locket.
Other brides and grooms have described wearing items of clothing or jewellery that their parents wore at their own wedding, serving up their favourite food, dancing to the same song their late parent danced to or choosing colours that their parent loved for the wedding theme.
It’s important to find the way that feels comforting and authentic to you when figuring out how to honour a late parent as you experience a big life milestone and to remember to seek help if the feelings of grief or sadness ever become too much.
For resources on coping with the loss of a parent, please visit The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement (ACGB).