I want to share a story with you all today. A story about parents who have put everything they are feeling and thinking aside to make everything okay for their small children.
To make life more fun for their children.
To take away the sadness their kids may be feeling.
This comes from a story that has touched me over the past two years so profoundly, dare I say that it has changed the way I look at life.
I touched upon this story on my blog in March of 2011. But, June of 2010 is when their lives were changed forever one morning, and by just knowing what they were going through, mine was too.
I want to share how two people (& their spouses) who tragically lost both of their healthy, young parents within a year and a half of each other, both suddenly and unexpectedly have taken such a sad experience and turned it around for their 5 kids between them, all under 8 years old.
They celebrate Grandma and Poppa!
They take pictures with the headstones at the cemetery!
They’ve brought handmade painted rocks the kids had made to leave on the headstones!
They brought a blanket and a picnic and water balloons!!
They celebrate their lives not grieve their deaths.
For years my advice to parents on how to help children and themselves deal with those tough anniversaries of death has always been get a balloon and eat a cupcake and send the balloon up to the departed and celebrate their lives. Talk about the fond memories, look at pictures, laugh at the silly times, that is what keeps their memory alive. It’s so hard on us adults to let go of the tears, the grief, the anger, the sadness, but that’s what children need.
Before writing this post I complimented my friend on how amazing I think they are all doing with this, and she shared this with me: “When my mom bought their plots she said, “You have to see where it is! It’s flat, by a waterfall and trees. You can visit and have a picnic”. So they did! And to me, It’s as if Grandma planned that afternoon for them. 🙂
And as I looked at the pictures my friends took this past week, I saw smiles on their faces, as they commemorated and celebrated at the cemetery with their Grandma and Poppa. I wish everyone could see the pictures, but they are their own private memories and not for public viewing, but when looking at them, you really can see how healing this was for both the children and the adults. It’s unconventional yes, but so very healing!
Do they get looks from passers-by, absolutely. But who cares?
Everyone grieves in their own way, and children need a way to understand death. To know that it’s okay to remember their Grandma & Poppa or others that have passed. To know that they can laugh at the memories too, and it doesn’t all have to be about tears and sadness.
Children look to us for how to react, and these 4 parents of these 5 children are doing an AMAZING job. Truly inspirational.
I hope those of you that have lost parents or grandparents can share the stories of them with your children, whether or not your children are/were old enough to remember them. Keep their memories alive. Celebrate their lives.
In Judaism, when someone dies, we say, “May his/her memory be a blessing”. Meaning the memories will keep their soul and spirit living on inside those left behind. Those are powerful words to me.
I hope by sharing this story of this brave and amazing family I can help even just one person handle their own grief or child’s grief.
For me, it’s cathartic to realize how celebrating the life of those that have passed is healthier for us all, of course tears are expected and in my world welcomed, in fact they’re proof YOU are alive. ~traci xoxo