By Heather Hamilton (@TZJMommy)
Today is Zack’s 4th birthday. The entire week leading up to this day has been so difficult and emotionally draining. You see, Zack is a twin, and while we are overwhelmed with the fact that Zack won’t be there to turn 4, his brother still deserves a fun birthday celebration! I’ve been overwhelmed with memories of the day that the boys were born. Looking at my sweet little ones and being so worried for Zack’s future. My life changed four years ago today. This day means so much more to me than just cake and lootbags.
It’s really unbelievable to me, that he is gone. I think I go through the motions of the day sometimes and while I miss him, the reality doesn’t hit me each and every day. As would be expected, the loss has a much greater impact on a special day. I’ve already had a birthday, Easter and Mother’s Day without Zack and those days felt so different than before. The hardest thing for me, was that these days were about celebrating. After the death of a child or even any death in a family, it’s hard to ever imaging celebrating anything again. I was the type of mom who loved to decorate for all occasions. I haven’t done that since Zack died. I think I’ve come to realize that those things just aren’t as important as they once were. Balloons and banners don’t make a holiday special, it is having the ones you love around you, that make the memories of those days.
Today on Zack’s birthday, it hits me again….hard. He’s gone. Today should have been a day to sing “Happy Birthday” to both of our boys, snuggle in bed and have a special breakfast. We should have planned a party with their friends, eaten too much cake and taking a thousand photos to post on Facebook. Today, I’ve been looking though the last 3 birthday photos and looking at how happy our little boy was, and all that he accomplished between those years. Today, I’ve cried a lot, lit a candle and stayed in comfy clothes. I’m finding comfort in being home. Today, I’ve visited Zack’s grave, alone. With my blanket and kleenex, I lay down to be with my son, as I did the day I said goodbye. I sang him “Happy Birthday” from his mommy. This was OUR time. Today will be a day to remember Zack and to celebrate Jayden. I know that I have found some ways to allow Jayden to feel special and have fun, while also honouring Zack’s memory.
Here are some of the ways we will acknowledge Zack’s Birthday. Whether it’s a birthday, mother’s day, religious holiday or anniversary of their death, there are ways in which we can all find comfort in remembering the ones we miss. I hope that you find comfort in some of these ideas to honour the ones that you have lost in your lives. My goal for today is to find the small ways in which I can remember what Zack meant to us. I’m hoping to find a way to smile, through my tears, to make it through this “first”.
- Do something special that the person you lost, would have loved to do. Did they play the piano, sing or love to dance? Did they love a certain colour? We will be playing Zack’s favourite Elmo movie tonight before bed and blowing bubbles.
- Buy balloons, write a letter on it and send it through the clouds. It is a powerful image to watch and a reminder of something beyond what we can see.
- Ask friends and family to write a note or card about the person who has died. On Jayden’s birthday weekend at Great Wolf Lodge, we received several notes to Zack to read when we are ready.
- Light a candle all day, to keep their spirit shining brightly around you.
- Tell stories about the person you have lost. We will each tell a story at dinner tonight- one story about Zack and one about Jayden on their special day.
- Look through video and photos of events in the past…this can be hard to do, but also a beautiful reminder of special memories.
- Write a card, journal, letter or blog post about them. Not necessary to share it.
- Have a cake in their honour– remember the “sweetness” of having that person in your life. We will be having a birthday cake picnic at Zack’s grave tonight- lighting two candles for our boys.
- Leave an empty chair at the table. Physically leaving a reminder that they are still very much with you in everything that you do.
- Propose a toast, have a moment of silence or play a special song for your loved one, just before you start that holiday meal.
How do YOU honour those who have died, in your family?