Mothers/Fathers Days > Ideas
There are many bereaved parents who have contacted me over the last four years since my own son died. Many have found me through the MISS Foundation, some have been in touch after reading on our KotaPress website, others have approached me in person after a reading or presentation I’ve done along the way. But no matter what the circumstance, they have all told me that they are grateful for the idea that their parenthood continues after the death of their children.
And in that vein, most are floored if they are remembered on Mothers’ Day or Fathers’ Day. Most are woefully ignored or neglected on these made-up-hallmark-holidays. And most suffer deeply from having their parenthood ignored on these flower-filled-chocolate-giving-serve-breakfast-in-bed days.
With that in mind, I’m compiling the following list of ideas for partners, siblings, care givers, anyone-who-cares-about-the-well-being-of-the-bereaved-parent as a way to suggest what you might do to recognize the parenthood of ALL parents on Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day. If you yourself are a bereaved parent and you have previously been ignored on these hallmark holidays – and if you wish to be recognized in the future – then I suggest you make copies of this article and share it with the people in your life. Tell them directly, with no room for question or excuse, exactly how you would like to be treated on those days. You never know. It might actually translate into people recognizing you as a parent on all the other days of the year during which you continue to survive after the death of your child! Imagine that.
I want to thank all the parents of MISS, from KotaPress Yahoo Group, from the Always Loved Never Forgotten Newsletter, from random emails and more. You have all so generously shared these ideas with me – and I want you to know that you are amazing and wonderful for coming forward to share all of this! I know it can be a major accomplishment to share or give a part of a broken heart. Here’s to the memory of all our children:
* Just treat me like the other parents on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day! If you give flowers to the other mothers at dinner that day, then have a flower for me. If you are giving chocolates to the other fathers at dinner that day, then have a chocolate for me, too. Just treat me like you treat all the other parents.
* If you are going to take me to a church or religious service that day (as Mother’s and Father’s Days do fall on Sundays in the U.S.), then please, please, please make sure they are willing to recognize me as a mother JUST EXACTLY THE SAME WAY as they are going to recognize all the other parents in the room.
* Ask me how I am feeling on that day – and then stick around long enough to actually hear my answer. You don’t have to have answers. You don’t have to solve anything for me. You don’t have to make me feel better. You just have to stick around, listen, and let me talk about my parenthood lost, my child, my life-after-the-death-of-my-child.
* Send me a card with a handwritten note in it to say that you are remembering my child and me today.
* Share a poem with me. Find a poem that speaks to loss, grief, healing, and the memory of loved children. Or write me a poem. Give me a written copy or read it out loud to me.
* Give me a little something with my child’s name on it. One of those charms or a zipper latch or a card. Something that says you, too, remember my child.
* Give me a bead keychain, or necklace, or bracelet that spells out my child’s name.
* Look me in the eye and say, “Happy Mother’s Day” or “Happy Father’s Day” and tell me that you are remembering my parenthood today.
* Send me a card or some flowers with a little card that is signed with my child’s name. I have had many other bereaved mommies send me cards in the voice of my child, signed with my child’s name – and it is a wonderful affirmation of my continued parenthood. It cheers me up to know that other people are thinking of my child, of me. I feel less alone.
* Along the same lines, if you are a partner and are going to have your living children sign a card for your wife/husband, then also add and sign for your children who have died. Make it a gift from ALL the children.
* You might try spoiling the mom or dad on their special days. Give mom a mother’s day card with a gift certificate to a day spa inside it. Give dad a father’s day card with a gift certificate to the golf course in it. It doesn’t have to be so gender biased – just pick something that individual parent would enjoy and treat them to it.
* Just send me a quick email to say you are remembering my parenthood on Mother’s or Father’s Day.
* Try offering a small gift with an angel theme to the bereaved parent – as long as they actually resonate with the idea of angels! I personally love the little angel birthstone pins, but I have also seen cards, tokens, quilted squares, figurines with the angel theme. Sometimes you can find the tokens mounted on a thick piece of card stock – you can write on the card stock to say this is in memory of my child or just sign it as if it were from my child. I really enjoy that.
* If there are pictures of the child available, have a nice print of a photo framed nicely. Or use the photo to make something else: for instance, my husband took a photo of our son and created an artistic note with a font that looked like a child’s handwriting with the photo faded in the background. The note said, “Today is my day to remember you mom!” It was signed with my son’s name and there was a PS to say, “Did you like my cupcakes?” and in the kitchen were beautiful and tasty little cupcakes with “I love mom” decorations on them.
* Just let me miss my child on this day without saying things like, “But you have other children” or “But you are young, you can have more children.”
* Plant a tree, name a star, make a donation, dedicate a block at the museum – do one of these things in the name of my child and let me know you did it.
* Donate a grief book to your local library and ask them to include a donation plate in the front, inside cover of the book where my child’s name can be written. Very often, the librarian will write a letter of thanks for that donation, and I’d be so honored to see that letter on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
* Send me a note to say how you are feeling about my child’s death today. Let me know that he or she affected/effected your life in some way and tell me that you miss them, too. But only do this if you actually do miss them – don’t try to fake anything with me anymore as my bull**** meter work really well now!
* I just appreciate it when my friends and family recognize me as a parent and take the time to ask me how I’m feeling. I also really appreciate it when other say my child’s name outloud – simply saying, “I’ve been thinking about you and [insert child’s name here] today.” It shows me that they really care.
* If you know that butterflies or hummingbirds or some particular flower reminds me of my child AND if you happen to see that particular thing on Mother’s or Father’s Day, please share the story with me. I consider it a sign saying that my child is okay wherever s/he might be.
* Go with me to my child’s grave. Let me sit there and talk with you. Just listen, give me a hug. Don’t try to fix it for me. Don’t ignore my grief or my child – not on this day, please.
* Take a walk with me in the woods or through a pea patch or by the ocean. Talk with me about my child and my parenthood while we walk. Hold my hand. Give me a hug.
* Hug me and say, “Happy Mother’s Day” or “Happy Father’s Day” and let me know you haven’t forgotten my child.
About the Author
Kara has been using poetry and other expressive arts tools on the grief journey since the death of her son in 1999. Her poetic and non-fiction works have been included in publications such as New Works Review, PoetsWest, Real Henna, Shared Heart Foundation's "Meant To Be", LightHearts Publication's "Soul Trek", MISSing Angels Newsletter, American Tanka, Mother Tongue Ink's We'Moon, Honored Babies, Cup of Comfort series, and more. She is a Carnegie Mellon graduate who co-founded KotaPress with her husband Hawk Jones. Her books "Mrs. Duck and the Woman" as well as "Flash of Life" have both been released thru KotaPress. She is currently in an apprenticeship working toward Master level of Reiki. And she founded HennaHealing.com where she is exploring the ancient art of henna and its uses for ritual and healing.