How are you supposed to celebrate a child’s birthday when the person of honor is no longer here? It’s supposed to be a happy and joyful occasion, and it’s now an occasion filled with loss and longing.
Everyone has different reactions to the upcoming day. Some dread it for weeks and months in advance, and sometimes you can feel like you are “going backwards”. It’s just a part of your grief. You have come into a time of more memories and reminders that your child is no longer here. Some people are like me, and don’t think about it a ton until the day of, and then the day hits you pretty hard. Some it’s all hard, and there are not any moments of joy on that day. We are all different, and we all grieve our children and miss them in different ways, but many times in the same ways.
We are now celebrating Aria’s 3rd birthday without her. In the past 3 years we have done a few different things, and I think for everyone, as time goes on you learn what you want and what traditions you would like to have on their birthday.
OUR BIRTHDAY TRADITIONS
For us, we knew that we wanted to do something for good. Something in remembrance of her, and something that we can put our energy towards good. It seemed like an easy and logical connection to do a meal at the Ronald McDonald house. Right before Aria’s 1st birthday she had surgery and we used the Ronald McDonald house as part of our stay in the hospital. It seems like a fitting thing to do for us. It might not work every year, but hopefully as many years as possible!
We have decided from now on, that Aria’s birthday is a day we do fun things as a family. We want try focus on our family, and our kids that are here with us. It’s hard to not have her here with us, but we want her birthday to be a reminder of what we can lose, and who is important to us in our lives. If it doesn’t work on her birthday, we will make sure we have a family day right around the time.
I created a cheat sheet of sorts, to help other grieving mothers know that they are not alone. Grief can seem so lonely and so many crazy things can happen, physically and mentally. So I made a list of very common experiences that come with grief. You can go get that list by going here; www.meganhillukka.com/grief
IDEAS FROM OTHER MOMS
I’ve heard from another mother, that they try to make their birthday a day of celebration and remembering the day they were born. They brought a lot of joy into our lives, and on their birthday if we can celebrate that it’s for the better. I like to try think of it this way. In what ways can we spread the beauty and love that was our child in this world? What ways can we make this place a little bit of a brighter place, even if it’s just within our own family, or our own life.
This does not mean that there are not hard moments in the day as well. It’s difficult to buy a cake, and do balloons for your child who isn’t even there. But making it more about the day they were born, helps shift your focus a little bit. I know many of you have your child’s birthday and death date on the same day, so their birth is not a joyful occasion. So a birthday for you is a little different <3.
Each of us though, need to figure out something that feels right for us. You might not have the energy to put towards working for something good, and maybe it’s not something you want to do. That’s okay. You can do whatever feels right for your family. Some other ideas that I know other families have done are:
-Going to the cemetery to send off balloons with messages
-Having a birthday party at home with friends
-Doing a fun family day(outing to the zoo, indoor waterpark, doing something out of the ordinary)
-If there was something your child loved, you could do something surrounding that.
-Doing something in honor of them(donating money, working for charity, helping others out).
-Asking others to do something kind for others in their memory.
-Light candles and have quiet moments
A GENTLE REMINDER
I want to send you a gentle reminder that not everyone will remember your child’s birthday. This can be a very painful experience. And as time goes on, less and less people will remember. To everyone else, their life goes on, and this is your life, and your child. I’m not saying people are heartless, it’s just not their life, and not something they are forced to live with every day like you are.
If you want something to happen on your child’s birthday, or you want your child to be remembered, it’s up to you to make arrangements or ask for someone to plan something. If someone asks you, that’s amazing! But if nobody does and you would like to do something in memory of your child, you need to take steps to make something happen, otherwise you might end up feeling hurt because no one did anything. I know that’s not easy, but it’s just the way it is sometimes. Sometimes we have people in our lives that do do things ,and that’s amazing, and sometimes they don’t. I just want you to take steps so you can celebrate your child’s birthday, in the way that feels right for you.
It can be a very hard day, so treat yourself with love and respect. Let yourself “celebrate” it in whatever way you need to. <3
What do you do on your child’s birthday? Are you able to see any joy in remembering their birth? Or does grief cloud that?