Sunday, May 8, 2011

The bereaved parents' club

a cup cake holder with no cakes.

In the synopsis of my book, Diary of a Bereaved Mother. I wrote "For we belong to the club of bereaved parents. Membership is not by choice but by force." Nothing can change the fact that our deceased child is a part of the family forever, and the void in the family constellation created by the child's death also remains forever.

While we celebrate our living children's birthdays with the usual shebang of activities, how do bereaved parents celebrate our departed children's birthdays? For me, I celebrate Andrew's birthdays and anniversary in my heart. This is because my husband has other ideas. However, on the eve of these two days, I mention it during dinner. This is more to tell the family that tomorrow, I might feel moody.

When I was a newbie at a S.A.N.D.S support group, the leader was a bereaved mum of 17 years. She celebrates her late son's birthday the same way as she would anyone's birthday in her family. She engaged her living children to help bake the cake and sing happy birthday.

There are special things like holding memorials, releasing balloons, planting flowers,
giving money to her church and charity in his memory. It could be a charity that helps children or babies it seems fitting. I was involved with a lot of charities including one involved spearheading a drive to raise funds to give life to a pair of Siamese twins. My motivation was I couldn't do anything for Andrew, here was an opportunity to help another mum.

Of late cup cakes have become popular. What if you are a teacher, and your student brought a cup cake to you telling you that it is his late sibling's birthday cake? Or a friend who gets such a cake, how would you react? I would like to hear from you.


Boonie S said...

This is a very touching post. Thanks for this valuable insight.
I really can’t begin to imagine how I might react in the ‘Cupcake Scenario’.

Best wishes, Boonie

Karin said...

Every one of us deals differently with the loss of loved ones - and all ways of dealing with the loss are most likely an expression of our love. If someone brought me a cupcake in memory of a lost loved one, I would ask the person to share their memories of that loved one, if they felt comfortable doing so. Talking about the loss hopefully helps the person to become grateful to God that the loved was a part of life - however short. Their life had a purpose to fulfill in our life.

I think that there is no reason to actively continue mourning the loss - that seems to me that we are unable to let it go, feeling sorry for ourselves and burdening others with the fact that we can't rejoice at having had them and then move on!

Grief is such a personal journey!

Lily said...

Most Touching - If I was the receiver of such a cupcake, I would indeed feel most fortunate that one cared enough about ME to share that very special cupcake. I would probably do the same as Karin - ask first if they felt comfortable in sharing some memories of the loved one. I feel it is a very huge part of letting go and one usually feels better talking about their loss. I was sitting waiting for an XRay one day, and the young girl next to me was upset and crying. Everyone in the room just starred at her, and I asked her if she felt like talking about whatever she was so upset about. We sat in the corner and she told me she had just found out her brother was dying, he had been in a horrible accident - we went from being serious to her telling me about their funny adventures together as children. Sometime later, same day, we stopped for lunch and there was the same girl again in the hospital cafeteria. She came over to me and thanked me for helping her through the toughest hour of her young life. I think and perhaps really believe we are; where we are supposed to be - at those certain times in our life FOR A REASON :)

Ginny said...

If a child brought me this kind of cupcake, I would accept it and say how sorry I was. Then I would say it is a good thing to remember each year like this and ask what his feelings are about it now. Your husband does not want you to talk about it? But he was a member of your family who needs to be remembered. Perhaps it is just too painful for him to think about very much. Cupcakes are so popular here, we have cupcake bakeries and all they make and sell is cupcakes, many different kinds. You can see them making them behind the counter, Caramel sea salt, red velvet, cheesecake, lime...

Gattina said...

That's a rather sad post. I can imagine how awful you must feel on this special day.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

First of all tears will well up...and then I would have to search for words of comfort which usually do not come easily in a few seconds of emotion filled experience!!

What a lovely thought you have about cup cakes!! I would say....and then may be years later I would return to that scenario and find the correct words...may be not ...but a hug would be nice. And then...again is a hug a Chinese thing?

But here again I wish I could give you a hug across the miles....

Inspiring post.