Chrissy Teigen’s Baby Jack’s Ashes Helped Her Family Truly Grieve
"It was something for them to be able to put a story to."
Chrissy Teigen has long been known for being honest and relatable. But after a hard and long year — in which she lost her pregnancy at 20 weeks, got sober, entered therapy, and semi-retreated from public life — she’s opening up more than ever about how a family grieves the loss of her third child, Jack.
In an interview with Scary Mommy that covered her upcoming cookbook, how a family grieves, sobriety, and more, (full disclosure: Scary Mommy and Fatherly are both a part of Bustle Digital Group), Teigen explained that while they were very open from the beginning about their pregnancy loss — ”They saw the experience of the home ultrasounds and the nervousness of ‘This isn’t going well,’” she said, — it wasn’t until they received Jack’s ashes were her kids able to truly process that there was a family loss.
“We told them that we lost him, but it wasn’t really until we got his ashes back, I think, that they started to be able to say, ‘OK, this happened. Here he is now. He didn’t make it,’” she said. “It was something for them to be able to put a story to, where we could say, “‘OK, Jack is in here and he is going to stay with us. And maybe one day we might release him. And he loves that we still think about him, and he loves that we’re still emotional about him, but more than anything, he loves that we talk about him. That makes him really excited and really happy.’”
She noted that her children — 5 and 3, respectively — will probably “never quite understand why he didn’t make it in the way that I don’t quite understand.” She noted that she had a placental abruption and kept asking her doctors: “‘Why didn’t we just keep going?’”
“They were like, ‘We physically would’ve run out of blood in the hospital. Were we going to do that for 20 weeks in the hospital?’ That’s still something I’m coming to terms with, why we gave up.’”
Teigen also noted that she and her family talk about Jack a lot and that, when she, John, Luna, and Miles go on a vacation, her kids say “‘Don’t forget baby Jack.’” And then I have to pack him up. And then we get to where we’re going, they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, he must be thirsty.’ This might sound crazy to people, but they’ll put a little glass of water next to his box of ashes. And they really love being a part of it.”
Having a whole family participate in grieving — whatever it may look like — may look different for every family. But what matters is that Teigen’s children and her whole family are open and speak about their loss, in ways that are real and concrete.
She also opened up about how finishing the book was when she realized she needed therapy to deal with her loss. It was “definitely time for therapy, and time for some healing, and that didn’t even happen until recently.” She noted that in her life, where the real growth happens is “when your world is turned upside down… There’s always room for things to completely turn your world upside down, and there’s so much learning to be done in that.”
“With Jack,” she added, “I needed to learn that life is so precious. The way I was treating my body was not great with the alcohol. And then even before I had gotten pregnant, I just wasn’t living a healthy life. I was the kind of person that made fun of working out… I feel like if I got to have the chance to have him, I wouldn’t have learned how precious life is and how precious my body is. And now I look at my body as something I can’t yell at and can’t be upset with. It’s gotten through so much… what it has persevered through has been incredible.” She added, “Our bodies are just hell-bent on getting us to survive every day. And all we do is talk negatively [to them], and we [tell them] how ugly [they are] or how you don’t like this part of [them.]”
Speaking from a place of a lack of anger — and the power of therapy — the interview also featured signature parental wisdom from Teigen. For someone who is known for cooking adventurous foods, she admitted her kids love to eat the basic stuff like chicken nuggets and pizza and that their appetites, sometimes, randomly change. And she still had some signature food hacks to get her kids through it.
One important piece of advice for all parents of picky eaters? Keep your McDonald’s Happy Meal Boxes. “I realized if things go in the Happy Meal Box, they get more excited for it,” she said, especially when your kid has a certain fixation on, say, chicken nuggets.
“They still want a Happy Meal,” she said, a piece of advice about feeding kids that also feels like a nugget of wisdom about parenting in general. “They still want pizza Fridays at school. They’re kids, and they want things that are familiar and yummy. You can’t really get away from it, no matter who you are. That’s just that.”