Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Name, An Identity

In my previous post, A Loss and Our Faith, I talked about how our faith has helped us to accept the death of our child. We never got to see or hold our baby and we'll never know if it was a boy or a girl. But despite all the questions, the occasional anger, grief, and sadness, and the loss of life at such an early stage, we know that this was a child of God who was sent to us as a gift, even if it was just for a short time. We'll never know why God chose to end this child's life so soon, but I trust His will and know that my baby is in heaven with Him. In my previous post I listed several items that have been on my mind since our loss. The first was about giving our child a name. Some may find this a strange thing to do, but I couldn't imagine not doing it. Read on to find out why.

The first time I heard the idea of giving a name to a child who died in the womb was from a book by Kimberly Hahn called Life Giving Love. It is an amazing book and I highly recommend it (very faithful to the teachings of the Church, including discussions on NFP, which was really my first intro to that topic). In part of the book she discusses miscarriage, she had two herself plus has six living children. It has been a few years since I read the book and I don't currently have it handy, but I remember reading that section on miscarriage and pregnancy loss and being blown away by all her insights and everything she went through. She named both her babies in heaven and the family remembers them in their prayers regularly.

The Sunday after our miscarriage the spot in our church bulletin usually reserved for a letter from our parish rector contained instead an excerpt about Parents and Baptism from the book Together at Baptism by Robert M. Hamma. There was one paragraph that stuck out for me and I wanted to share it here:

There are few things that parents do that have a more lasting effect on a child than giving a name. There is a time-honored tradition among Christians of naming children after saints or other biblical figures. Although our culture has changed and many people no longer observe this tradition, we still recognize that a name gives a child a sense of identity. Perhaps it gives a child a role model or expresses something of value for the parents that they want to share with their child. Whatever the case, naming a child is an important responsibility and a privilege.

This paragraph really spoke to me and was there at the exact moment I needed it. Every child should have an identity and it has been important to me that my child always be remembered as a unique individual. I was also struck by the idea of it being "an important responsibility and a privilege" (my emphasis). Wow, it is a "privilege" for me to name my baby! Why would I reject that privilege that God has given me? Although I can't hold or see my baby, I know he was a gift from God and God is giving me this chance to name my child. What an amazing thought!

We talked a long time about what name to give our child. I wanted something that would work for either a boy or a girl, since we didn't really know what we were having and I didn't want to make any declarations one way or the other. So we did some searching and the one name we really liked of all those we found was Casey. It isn't biblical and it isn't the name of any known saint, but we liked it. So it stuck. The middle name was a little harder. I came up with several suggestions and Chris finally picked out the one that I was most hesitant about, but I like it now. We decided on Marie for a variety of reasons. First, it is gender neutral! Marie, Maria, Mary, etc. are all used for men just as much for women in a variety of cultures (Carl Maria von Weber, anyone!). Chris has some French heritage, so Marie was an appropriate middle name for a boy, and of course, it is most commonly associated in our culture with girls. The other great part of Marie is that it is a name for Mary. The above quote mentions a name being a role model for the child. What better role model could there be than the Blessed Virgin Mary!! And what about the name expressing the parents values; well, Mary is very important to us both as a role model and as our heavenly Mother. I find myself thinking about Our Mother Mary a lot these days. I wonder if as a mother she has a special fondness for all the small children in heaven who died due to miscarriage or stillbirth, and especially for those who were victims of abortion. I need to start including prayers asking for Mary's intersession more often in my prayer life.

Casey Marie is a wonderful name and I love saying it to myself. I pray for Casey by name now. It brings tears to my eyes during certain parts of the Eucharistic prayers at Mass when I think of Casey. I just love knowing that my child will always have a unique identity and will always be remembered in my prayers and in our family prayers.

I welcome comments on this topic and would especially love to know what names others have chosen for children they have lost. Oh, and I haven't done it yet, but I am thinking of adding Casey Marie's name to the Book of Life at the Shrine for the Unborn at the Church of the Holy Innocents in New York City. The church prays for all the families and children in the Book of Life at the 12:15pm Mass on the first Monday of every month. What a beautiful thing! I love knowing that my baby is being prayed for regularly. If you want to help them out, they do accept donations to help with upkeep of the Shrine and all that it entails. We plan on making a donation and I may even make it an annual thing in rememberance of Casey.

Thanks for reading and listening to the ramblings of a still-grieving mother. May God bless all of you!


  1. Kerri and Chris - I am so sorry to hear about your loss. The three of you will be in my prayers. I was so touched to read about naming your baby. I think it is a great thing to do, to give him/her an identity. All the best in your continuing recovery process. Please let me know if there is anything I can do.

  2. Kerri-
    I just discovered your blog today. I will keep Casey Marie, you and Chris in my prayers. What a beautiful name. A nice tribute to your child. All my love! -Cousin Debi

  3. Heather: Thank you so much for keeping us in your prayers. I'm glad you liked the post about our baby's name. It means so much to have a name for our baby!

    Debi: Thanks for your post and for keeping us all in your prayers as well. So glad you like the name!!

    Glad you both found my blog!! Hope you enjoy reading more!

  4. Anonymous12:19 AM

    I just read your post, as I am just getting around to this Catholic Carnival. It hit very close to home as I also miscarried this year at around 8 weeks, and we also named our baby (Adrian) with a gender neutral name. I don't know about you, but I am relishing the opportunity to pray for (and to request the prayers of) my baby.
    I thought you should know to look up venerable Solanus Casey. He is not canonized yet, but seems to be on his way and I have friends who conceived a baby after praying to him.

    God bless you and your husband and your Casey.