Savannah, our third child, was welcomed into this world in May of ’99.  I like to think she was specially chosen for our family by her older sister, Alexandria.  Alexandria was too ill to stay with us.   She died early in ’98, seven days after her birth, from a chromosome abnormality.  She spent her brief life in the neonatal intensive care unit.   Savannah was the daughter who got to stay with our family on Earth; our precious rainbow baby following the storms of loss and the sunshine of grace.

Bryce (our firstborn) and Savannah have grown up knowing they have a sister who is in Heaven. My husband and I decided it was best for our family to be open with them about Alexandria.  After all, she will always part of our family spiritually.  I remember sharing this piece of sacred family history with their elementary school teachers, as both Bryce and Savannah would include Alexandria in their carefully colored pictures of our family.  As both were able to add words, they would eventually write about her as part of their English assignments.  I often found out about this after they brought home their beautiful pieces to share.

A couple of years ago, when Savannah was 10, she experienced the death of her beloved guinea pig.  We dutifully placed the pet in a shoe box, and went out into the rainy evening to bury him.  Savannah took the loss very hard.  As we talked about it over the coming weeks, Savannah independently began forming a connection between the loss of her pet and the death of her older sister. 

Alexandria’s death became more real for her as she began to understand the implications:  she was being robbed of a sister whom she had not met and would never meet while on this Earth.  I found myself walking through the grief with her.   Together we looked at mementos of Alexandria’s short life.  This was incredibly difficult as I was in such a different place with my grief but found myself reliving some of the earlier days when I thought the storm clouds would never pass.  I wrestled with questions about Savannah’s grief:  Is this normal?  Am I somehow projecting my grief on her?  Does she need to see a counselor?  (Sometimes being a social worker causes one to overanalyze.) 

Ultimately, my husband and I decided (with the help of a trusted colleague) that this was probably normal, that Savannah was entitled to her own grief, and that she did not need to see a counselor unless she developed signs of depression, which has not occurred thus far.   Savannah is now 12 years old.  She enjoys playing piano, singing, and hanging out with her friends.  She still talks about Alexandria, draws beautiful pictures of her, writes about her, and grieves the sister she never knew.  The tears mix with the sunshine she brings to create rainbows.   And the story continues to be written… 

Amy Daly 2011


Amy Daly

Amy Daly, MSW, LCSW, CT is the married mother of three children. After experiencing the death of her second child, a newborn daughter, Alexandria, in January of '98, she knew her purpose was to help other bereaved parents. She has a BA in Psychology, 1993, from Indiana University and and Master's in Social Work from Indiana University, 2006

. She earned her Certification in Thanatology through ADEC in 2008. Daly works part-time at St. Vincent Carmel Hospital in Carmel, Indiana, as a medical social worker, where she facilitates a perinatal bereavement support group. She also works at St. Vincent Hospice in Indianapolis where she facilitates support groups for widows and widowers, as well as facilitating general grief support groups that are not loss-specific.

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