Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sharing my daughter with the world

As a bereaved parent, we always want to keep our child’s memory alive and in front of people so they are not forgotten. We constantly think of ways to do this. Here are a few ideas of things I do that you may find interesting.

I took a color (or you can use black and white) picture of my daughter to a Penny’s store jewelry department (other stores may do it also), chose a gold oval pendant (I liked the oval best but there are also round, square and heart-shaped ones), and then the store sends it to a company that embosses the picture directly onto the pendant. It takes approximately six weeks. I don’t know the process, but the results are beautiful. It is something I always wear to keep my daughter close to my heart. People do notice and comment on how nice it looks. Those who don’t know me ask who it is; others ask, “Is it you?” I smile. I guess Marcy did look a little like me. I then have a chance to talk about her to others.

When I hear about a child dying, whether I knew that child or not, I have on occasion sent letters or cards to those grieving parents. I start by saying that I’m sorry for their loss. I tell them my story as a qualifier for writing to them and it gives me one more opportunity to talk about Marcy. I give them suggestions of what organizations they can contact or grief groups they can join to help them through the difficult times. I tell them surviving grief is a lifelong process, one they will have to go through, but eventually, they will move forward with their lives and find joy again. I feel good writing these parents and find it helps me in my journey also.

I have put together a photo/music presentation of my daughter from her birth picture through her last days. I tried to choose ones where her personality clearly showed through. The instrumental music chosen was upbeat and light. I have it on my computer and can go to it whenever I feel her presence and need more of her. I also have a DVD copy of the pictures to show friends who knew her and even those who didn’t know her. I also find that because I do talk about her, it is important for my special friends to see and hear her on tape. Fortunately, a friend of hers, a videographer, put together for me a 15 minutes tape of her life as he knew her in her adult years. She radiates throughout the tape as a fun-loving, beautiful soul. There is never a dry eye in the room of people watching it.

Along the same lines, I happened to have saved all Marcy’s school photos and took a large frame, dividing it into 16 wallet size spaces and placed a picture from birth to 16 years in it. Not only is it a wonderful conversation piece when I am showing people around my home, but it is also a wonderful representation of how much a child changes in 16 years!

When I speak at national bereavement conferences, I can tell Marcy stories and feel comfortable knowing I am in a safe environment where parents want to hear other’s stories because only ‘they’ truly understand. I speak at university grief classes held during the year (more about that later in another blog), at local bereavement groups, and at organizations that want to know more about how to relate to bereaved parents.

When I have to give a birthday or anniversary gift to a friend (particularly one who has everything imaginable) or I go to a luncheon and need a gift, I donate money to my favorite charity, the endowment fund I recently set up in Marcy’s memory! In that way, people learn about the fund and about Marcy. I have given them something worthwhile to think about donating to, since it is for students who need monetary help to pursue their careers in communications or theater. This fund will be around long after I am gone, and I hope others will continue to support it.

In each case I come away with a good feeling that on any particular day I am able to share my Marcy with the world.

1 comment:

  1. Its always sad when it is about death. More so when it involves our family members. But we also have to remember that everyone at some point also went through if not the same at least close to what we call grief. Grief comes in different forms just as stress does. It may be a painful memory or experience that can cause us tremendous sadness that we may categorize it as a grief. But we can't grieve about something forever. Life is so short to devote it to thinking over and over again about our losses. Those who still live must continue to live. Life therefore has to move on. But again we have two choices-to move on or not. In order for stress to leave those who are grieving still, which their losses would not have wanted if they were still alive most certainly, knowledge on eliminating stress is really a great help in seeing a brighter side of life in general.
    That death is chance for us to meet our creator in heaven.