A parent’s death has a profound and lasting effect on a child as the child must figure out how to move forward in life while maintaining some sort of attachment to the departed parent. When annual milestones approach, such as the deceased parent’s birthday, the child may wish to honor this special day to maintain a connection with the missed parent.
Plan a special trip to the final resting spot of the deceased parent, if the child wishes to visit, suggests Letitia Baldrige, author of “Letitia Baldrige’s More than Manners.” Your child may wish to take flowers to leave at the resting place. Plan enough time so that you do not rush the child. Allow the child to strive for some kind of connection with the deceased parent, if desired, by praying or talking to the parent.
Buy helium balloons to release into the air. You may even wish to buy one balloon for the birthday number the parent would have been celebrating. If the deceased parent had a favorite color or colors, purchase balloons in these colors. Take the balloons to a special spot and allow your child to determine when she releases them. You might sing “Happy Birthday” while the balloons float upward into the sky.
If the deceased parent had a favorite activity or place to visit, engage in this activity or visit this place on the parent’s birthday. Engaging in this activity can help the child feel closer to the deceased parent. While spending the time engaging in the activity, talk about the deceased parent with the child so he can feel connected to the parent.
Some families choose to purchase a personal classified ad on a deceased parent’s birthday to share this special day. The ad may include a picture of the deceased, as well as details such as date of birth and date of death. If the child wishes to include a message, help her write it to include in the classified ad.
Instead of fanfare and activity, your child may prefer to spend the deceased parent’s birthday in a quiet celebration. Prepare a special meal and spend time together as a family. Talk about the deceased parent, sharing heartwarming stories and anecdotes about the deceased. Look at photo albums to remember precious memories of the deceased parent.
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