Owlet Blog

Embracing Remembrance: Navigating Loss During the Holidays

Embracing Remembrance: Navigating Loss During the Holidays

Owlet's mission is to empower parents to give care at home. Owlet Cares supports our overall mission through advocacy, charitable and research initiatives that support families and communities. We partner with nonprofits all over the world who share our mission. These groups participate in our 3:1 match program. When they purchase one Owlet product, we match it with two meaning three families are reached.

We also stand with and support parents who have lost children. In honor of the holidays, one of our partners shares with us how they remember their son during the holidays. 

By: Katie Stern 

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness, but for some families, it can also be a poignant reminder of those who are no longer with us. In our home, the spirit of the holidays carries a bittersweet tone as we fondly remember our beloved son, Toby, who left our world at just 12 weeks and 5 days old due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Toby, our middle son, was a beacon of joy with a contagious smile and the brightest blue eyes. His happiness radiated as he watched and laughed with his older brother, Lucas. Despite his short time with us, Toby left an indelible mark on our lives and so much joy.

Toby is not just a memory; he is an integral part of our daily lives. His brothers, Lucas and Zeke, keep his spirit alive through drawings, his name included on cards, our annual family photos, and shared conversations. In 2018, we founded The Little Fox – Toby’s Foundationa non-profit dedicated to supporting grieving families through workshops and retreats, while also educating on the importance of safe sleep practices for infants through the partnership with Owlet. This work allows us to honor Toby daily and find new ways to continually cope.

Navigating the holidays without Toby is a delicate balance. Some holidays and seasons are gentler, while others stir huge waves of grief. We honor Toby by saying his name, lighting candles, writing notes, and donating toys to children in need, specifically during the holiday season. For us, it's essential to sit with our grief, making conscious decisions about holiday activities to safeguard our hearts.

Toby's comforting presence is felt throughout the holiday season, especially in the gentle touches on a Christmas tree adorned with foxes, soft orange ornaments, and cardinals—a heartfelt tribute to Toby and The Little Fox.

During the first holiday season, just three months after Toby’s passing, I discovered a compassionate mother who initiated a memorial ornament exchange for fellow grievers. Taking part in that inaugural exchange, orchestrated by Ginny Limer, became a source of profound comfort. Receiving an ornament in the mail, adorned with Toby’s name, carried immeasurable significance for me.

In 2019, inspired by the healing power of this gesture, I initiated a memorial ornament exchange. My intention was to provide solace to other grieving mothers, offering them a meaningful way to honor their precious babies while fostering a sense of community among mothers who share a similar journey. The heartfelt messages and notes from the participating mothers over the last five years reaffirm that the efforts dedicated to Toby’s memory are making a meaningful impact and offering solace to those navigating the challenging path of grief.

Coping with grief is a daily journey. Rituals and activities provide comfort, creating spaces to remember Toby. The foundation's work serves as a therapeutic outlet, channeling grief into meaningful actions that benefit other parents who are also grieving.

Over the past seven years, since Toby's passing, our family has undergone profound growth and change. Healing practices, coupled with invaluable resources, have been instrumental in navigating this complex journey day in and day out.

Sharing Toby's story is more than a recounting of precious moments; it's a beacon of advocacy. By shedding light on safe sleep practices and Toby’s Foundation becoming a resource where there is a void in supporting grieving families, we aim to make a lasting impact.

Toby's memory is a living presence in our daily lives. From the Christmas tree to community and national initiatives, we actively commemorate his life, ensuring his legacy thrives.

To those who have experienced similar loss, our advice is simple: "Grieve whatever way you need to, on whatever timeline you need to. Speak their name. Tell their story.Life after the loss of a child is different, and it's okay to embrace grief in your unique way.

As the holiday season unfolds, we invite you to join us in remembering those babies who have died and share the special ways that you honor them. Toby's spirit lives on, not just in our hearts but in the positive actions we take to honor his memory. Through shared experiences and a supportive community, we hope to offer solace and inspiration to others navigating the path of grief during the holidays and beyond. 

Katie Stern

Toby’s Mom, Co-Founder, Executive Director, The Little Fox – Toby’s Foundation

After the sudden death of her son Toby in 2016, at 12 weeks old, from Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Syndrome (SUIDS), which includes SIDS, and struggling to find resources to process their own grief, Katie and her husband, Dan, started The Little Fox – Toby’s Foundation. The mission of their 501(c)3 non-profit is to support grieving families and raise SIDS awareness. The work through Toby’s Foundation has touched countless lives across the United States through the donation of vital equipment and emotional support. They recently announced their plans to build a Grief Retreat Center in Western PA to best support grieving families across the country.

Katie’s commitment to mental health and wellness is equally commendable, as she advocates for the well-being of individuals and extended family members who cope with the loss of an infant. She has written for Still Standing Magazine, City Moms Blog, Stories from the Trenches and continues to blog through Toby’s Foundation on motherhood, grief, death, and growth. She has spoken about her family’s story and Toby’s legacy on the podcasts: Yet We Thrive, Confessions of a Grieving Mother, Death Space, and Life After Miscarriage, and others. In 2022, The Little Fox – Toby’s Foundation was chosen for the Building Bridges Pittsburgh campaign because of the impact the organization is having, not only for families in Pittsburgh, but across the country. Katie was most recently honored by Brave Women Project as the first recipient of the Evolve Pillar Award, being recognized as the Change-Maker: excelling in her own growth, making herself better to have a greater impact on those around her. She and her husband, Dan, live in Pittsburgh, PA with Toby’s older and younger brothers, Lucas and Zeke.

The quotes, stories, and experiences included here are those of the individuals and are not representative of Owlet's views or claims about our product. Individuals were not paid and did not submit their information as part of any paid promotion by Owlet.