I thought I would share a story regarding birthdays for our children gone too soon. It makes me realise that it’s hard for people to understand the ways of bereaved parents and how they individually do what they feel is right for them at the time, which possibly would and does, vary from year to year as our grief ‘evolves’.
My daughter in law has a close friend whose 5 year old daughter died unexpectedly 18 months ago. The first birthday of her daughter the mother had a birthday party, inviting her daughter’s classmates and did the whole party thing. This year she is planning to do the same and while the first year everyone went along with it, this year a lot of her friends are feeling very uncomfortable and are thinking she should ‘get over it’ and not persist with parties. We understand the mother is just doing what comforts her as she is still in the very early stages of her grief, while her friends are starting to think she’s ‘losing it’ and have even started avoiding her.
As bereaved parents we need to keep ‘educating’ the wider community about grieving parents and individual grief journeys and that there isn’t a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to honour our children on these occasions. One parent may not ‘celebrate’ a birthday openly, and another one will do something with either family and/or friends. Regardless of what we choose to do, we who are on this journey know that it is ours alone to do with whatever we choose as part of the healing process.