Over the weekend, Chrissy Teigen shared a photo on her Instagram Story showing a new tattoo to memorialise the child she and her husband John Legend lost in September. Written in cursive lettering, "Jack" (the name they had chosen for their son) sits centred across her wrist. She didn’t directly mention the tattoo in the photo on her Instagram Story, taken while out to dinner with Legend, but when Teigen shared it again on Twitter, it sparked an important conversation.
Numerous women responded to Teigen's new ink with pictures of their own tattoos that honour the lives of children they lost. Each photo elicited countless more responses of support, condolences, and more stories of pregnancy loss. "I’ve been trying to find the best tattoo to represent my stillborn son for 13 years. I love your tattoo for Jack," one Twitter user wrote. Teigen responded by offering to help her choose a design. Others showed their support and also chimed in with inspiration and suggestions. While no two people experience grief the same way, it seems like getting a tattoo is an important signifier for many.
Grieving is a deeply personal experience and while we may experience similar phases of it, the process is specific to the individual. "Losing a child in pregnancy is an unimaginable tragedy that unfortunately occurs far more often than most people realise," Lilli Dash Zimmerman, MD, and Fertility Specialist at Columbia University Fertility Center told Refinery29. "No matter what stage, but especially as pregnancies progress, the wave of grief that results from a loss is devastating and, for many, only time can function as a means to cope. For others, it is photos, footprints, or other mementos from the delivery that help this process."
The coping process can include sharing photos, or the more permanent homage of a tattoo. In fact, getting a tattoo to have a lifelong reminder of a loved one can be more than just a personal memorial. "Depending on its location, the tattoo can also serve as a conversation starter for those parents who wish to use the memory to help others know that it is okay to grieve," Dr. Cindy Duke, Reproductive Endocrinologist and advisor to Proov, told Refinery29. "It helps to break taboos while validating the pain of the loss."
For Teigen and Legend, they found comfort in sharing their story, and are continuing to de-stigmatise talking about this kind of loss and helping others through their own pain. With her latest tattoo, Teigen exemplifies the importance of finding a way to feel and process grief and not shying away from sharing it with others if that is what helps you heal.