Thursday, August 30, 2007

Preserving your child's memory

The most important thing to parents after the death of a child is 'forgetting.' They don't want to forget their child, nor do they want others to forget. They want people to talk about the child, say their name, tell of an event related to the child...anything that will keep the memory alive.

For the parent there are many things they can do to honor their child. Many parents set up scholarship funds in memory of the child at the school he or she attended. Each year a winner of the scholarship is announced and some parents like to do the actual presentation so they can say a little bit about their child in the process.

I not only set up a scholarship in my daughter's memory at the school I taught at for 27 years, but a tree with a memorial plaque was planted right next to my classroom by SADD. A building was built in her honor by donations from her friends, and I bought many bricks with her name on them in her memory at ballparks, theaters, and where she worked. It is a good feeling to know she is part of my world and always will be.

One of my favorite projects was when my husband and I put together a slide-music presentation of her life from birth to death. It is on my computer, and I enjoy watching it any time I get the urge or when I miss her so very much. The same idea can be done with a scrapbook, memorial pin, memory quilt, Christmas wreath, stepping stones, memorial garden and collages of pictures on a wall.

A 20 inch Carrie Bear made from a piece of favorite clothing that belonged to your child and placed on a bed is a good memory. It helps another person feel close to someone they have lost. Go to and see an assortment of bears and the way this is done. A photo can also be included on the bear.

Journaling one's feelings after your child dies is a way to look back and see how you were feeling during those awful first few months or years. Releasing those pent up feelings is good for you and, by the way, crying is very healthy, so don't be ashamed. Most importantly, journaling shows how far you have come.

A web site of the child has become very popular. Parents can tell all about him or her, scan in pictures and even play music. I have a video a friend of my daughter's made that I enjoy showing to both old friends and new friends. I enjoy sharing her life and personality with them, and they appreciate getting to know my daughter more intimately.

A great gift a parent can receive is to have a newborn named after the child. I was fortunate to have my daughter's best friend name her first daughter after mine. At first I thought I might feel awkward saying her name, but I don't. She is not my daughter, but carries with her a story of a very wonderful person. She now understands who she is named after and has asked me what happened. I happily talk about my daughter, and once more, my daughter is not forgotten.

I find my greatest reward is in helping others who are now going through the grief process. I do this through writing, putting on national conferences and speaking at the conferences about surviving grief. I do this for myself and in honor of my daughter, Marcy, who will always be in my heart and mind and never forgotten.

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