Today marks my daughter’s 17th birthday. But I often find myself asking the question, “How does one celebrate the birthday of a beautiful child who is now in heaven?” For most parents celebrating the birthday of their child is a joyous day filled with love, laughter, family and friends. But for me it’s a day of mixed emotions. I read poems, I look at pictures and videos, I visit the cemetery and place flowers, I let go of balloons, and I cry. I cry for the life that was never lived. I cry because my daughter is not here to celebrate her birthday. And most of all I cry trying to imagine what she may look like at age 17.
Each year I celebrate my daughter’s birthday in solitude. For we as grieving parents are led to believe that it’s just not something that normal people do. There is consensus in society that parents should have come to terms with their child’s death and moved on. To celebrate the birthday of a deceased child is viewed as morbid and pathological.
This year for the first time I am celebrating my daughter’s birthday differently. I am having a lunch with friends who understand my loss, recognise my pain and honour my need to remember my child and celebrate her birthday. Without these understanding friends my daughter’s birthday would have been another day celebrated by myself in solitude.
Do you celebrate the birthday of your deceased child? Is there a particular continuing bond which you utilise each year for their birthday? And how do you feel about other’s views in response to you remembering your child?
Currently I am conducting a study into parental bereavement and continuing bonds. If you would be interested in sharing your thoughts and experiences I would be grateful. The questionnaire and further information is available at:
The research project also has a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CBRPDS