A year ago, news of Chrissy Teigan and John Legend’s loss of their son, Jack, trickled through the world. They were met with both support and criticism for sharing their loss, especially in such a raw and vulnerable way. The news came on the eve of Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month, and it was a stark reminder of just how much more awareness and understanding is needed around these devastating losses.
Now, a year later, Chrissy posted a heartbreaking update with a new photo, marking the anniversary of Jack’s loss: “and to the son we almost had. a year ago you gave me the greatest pain I could ever imagine to show me I could survive anything, even if I didn’t want to. i didn’t get to take care of you but you came and went to get me to love myself and take care of myself because our bodies are precious and life is a miracle. they told me it would get easier but yeah, that hasn’t started yet. mom and dad love you forever.”
And loss parents everywhere nodded in understanding. Chrissy has so vulnerably shared herself through this excruciating loss and life after, and we are so grateful for the awareness she has continued to raise.
Just four weeks after her loss in 2020, Chrissy shared a heartbreaking, raw, and beautiful essay about the birth and loss of her son. She wrote about taking and sharing the photos:
I had asked my mom and John to take pictures, no matter how uncomfortable it was. I explained to a very hesitant John that I needed them, and that I did NOT want to have to ever ask. That he just had to do it. He hated it. I could tell. It didn’t make sense to him at the time. But I knew I needed to know of this moment forever, the same way I needed to remember us kissing at the end of the aisle, the same way I needed to remember our tears of joy after Luna and Miles. And I absolutely knew I needed to share this story.
I cannot express how little I care that you hate the photos. How little I care that it’s something you wouldn’t have done. I lived it, I chose to do it, and more than anything, these photos aren’t for anyone but the people who have lived this or are curious enough to wonder what something like this is like. These photos are only for the people who need them. The thoughts of others do not matter to me.
People who have not experienced loss can have a hard time understanding why parents would want to share photos of their babies who died.
So, we asked the moms in our Pregnancy After Loss Support community, “Why do you share photos of your babies who died?”
- They are our children, and we love them. We share our living children, and we love our babies who died just as much.
- They are beautiful and perfect and deserve to be shared.
- So they can be remembered. One of our greatest fears is that our babies who died will be forgotten. Photos are a reminder to those around us that they were here. They existed. And we love and miss them.
- We are proud of these children and we want the world to know about them.
- We want people to understand that they were real and perfect babies, not just a pregnancy that didn’t work out.
- We need support and love through our grief.
- Many of our loved ones never got to meet these precious children, so sharing photos is a way for them to get to know our babies who died.
- To spread awareness that pregnancy, infant, and child loss still happens.
- It is our job as their parents to keep their memory alive and share their legacy.
- It is a way to parent our children, even after their death.
- They are unique children who deserve to be celebrated.
- To educate on the experience of grief and loss.
- They matter.
- These are the only photos and memories we will ever have of our children who died, and we treasure them.
- They bring us joy. We want the world to know our babies.
- So others know they are not alone.
- They are woven deeply into the fabric of our family’s story and deserve to be shared and spoken about.
- We shared our pregnancies, so we will also share their arrival.
- So others know the signs so they may not have to experience loss as well.
- We think of them every day, even as the world marches on.
- They lived. They existed. Death can’t take that away.
- So others know that their losses were not their fault.
- They made an immense impact on our lives.
- They made us parents, and we want to celebrate that.
- Their existence isn’t a secret, and we don’t want to hold their memory alone.
We are their voice. We speak their names. We share their photos. We tell their stories. Because they can no longer do those things. And we will honor them for as long as we live.
- How to cope with the death of your baby
- 10 Ways to Support a Bereaved Parent during Pregnancy, Infant, and Child Loss Awareness Month
- Dear Meghan, I am sorry for the assumptions I made about your pregnancy after loss
- Because of you, my child, I will forever have footprints on my heart
- What to Expect When Your Baby Dies
- “Why do my babies keep dying?” The Importance of Sharing our Stories–Even Celebrities
*A version of this article was originally published on October 2, 2020, and updated on October 28, 2020, and September 30, 2021.