I have always found that the lead up to Christian’s birthday/anniversary of his death was so much harder the actual day itself. Of course the day is rich with emotions and sometimes many tears but for some reason, the anticipation of the day was always so much worse. You may be feeling anxious, sad, angry and you may even be re-living everything, which is really tough. All of these things are completely normal. Allow yourself to feel these emotions and reach out for help if you need it.
If I can recommend anything to help you on your child/ren’s birthday/anniversary it would be to plan ahead and try and not get too caught up in who remembers and who doesn’t. It doesn’t matter if the whole world remembers or not, the fact is that your baby is still not there and that hurts. The only thing that matters, is that you, their beloved parent remembers them.
Below are some wonderful ideas of things that you could do on your child’s special day.
Plant a Tree.
Planting a tree is such a special way to remember your child. It also gives you a special place for you to visit and reflect at, especially if your child/ren were cremated and they do not have a final resting place. It allows their memory to grow and be a part of the Earth.
When choosing a tree look for one that will suit the environment that it will be planted in. Choose a strong healthy tree. Doing something to help the environment is a BEAUTIFUL way to honour your child.
Photograph The Day.
On Christian’s birthday I wake up just before sunrise and step outside to watch the stars disappear and the sun to light up the Earth. I welcome his day and give thanks for the love that he planted in my heart. I document his birthday with a few photos. I am not obsessive about photographing every little moment as I want to be fully present on the day but I do take a few photos. We like to go on a mini adventure and do our best to live fully of this day of him. Every year I photograph the sunset. It is an incredibly emotional moment for me. I usually cry a bucket of tears, but it is a beautiful release and I always feel better for that.
Make a Donation.
We love to give back to the community around Christian’s birthday. If you wanted to support the bereaved community a really sweet idea is to donate a memory box to a hospital. Creating a memory box will give a newly bereaved family something to take home from the hospital. Click here to find out more on how to create one.
Early on in our grief we used to do balloon releases, but after some research I discovered that while I thought they were so beautiful they harm the environment and even harm animals. I was so sad to learn about the damage that balloons can do even if they are biodegradable, that the magicalness of balloon releases just completely dissolved for me and we made the personal decision to not do them anymore as we felt it was not the way we wanted to honour our son. Of course this is just our choice and we do not pass judgement on anybody else for choosing to do a balloon release, it is just something that we will not be doing anymore. If you choose to do a Lantern Release, make sure that they are legal in your area. In Western Australia where we live Lantern Releases are illegal as they have caused bush fires. A Bubble Release is a super beautiful thing to do. Millions of bubbles surrounding us all as they dance away and disappear into the sky. Flower Releases are gorgeous too. We throw petals into the sea. You could do the same at a river or lake.
Make a Prayer Flag.
Prayer Flags are such a beautiful idea. You do not have to be religious (I am not) to make one. Click here if you would like to read more about them. I run a project every August where people around the world make them in memory of their babies. It is such a beautifully heartfelt thing to do.
Have a Special Dinner.
I found in the past we failed to plan anything for dinner time. We planned our day well but we had nothing planned for the night. The night-time for me was the hardest part of the day. I recommend doing something in the evening. Have a special dinner, enjoy some good food and even have a cake for dessert. Have people over to be with you if you feel that would help. Choose only friends and family who have comforted you in the loss of your child/ren.
Have Some Quiet Time.
Light a candle for your child/ren. If you can on the evening of their birthday sit outside and look up at the stars. Play some music. Create a space in your home just for them.
Connect With Others.
If you are alone on this special day and are in need of support, jump onto the internet. Seek out a support group that offers friendship to bereaved parents and reach out to them. You may make some beautiful friendships.
Speak Up About Your Wishes.
One of the most popular questions I get in emails is “How do I get my family and friends to remember and honour my child on their special day”. This is a great question. Here is the thing… it would be really lovey if all of your friends and family remembered your child’s special day, but the truth is that some won’t. Maybe even many of them won’t and that is a sad reality. The tough thing is that our friends and family are not mind readers. If we do not verbalize our needs, desires or wishes, nobody will do anything unless they are super thoughtful. So how do you get people to remember? Simply ask them to. You don’t have to make a hundred phone calls. It might be a short email or even a facebook status update to say that you will be remembering/celebrating/ honouring (whatever you are doing) your child that has died and you invite your friends and family to remember with you. Tell them not to be afraid to mention your child’s name. If you don’t put your wishes out there, no one will know them and you will more than likely be left disappointed.
In saying all of that. The only thing matters, is that you remember. You are your child’s parent, the most important person in their life. If nobody else remembers, it does not mean that your baby has been forgotten. They will never be forgotten as long as they have you to live for them.
I hope that these ideas have sparked an idea of your own heart. If it is all too hard and you end up spending the day in bed under the covers – that is okay. You just do whatever you need to. I wish you all the love in the world for your child/ren’s special day. May peace be with you always.