Missed Milestones in the New Year

For many, the dawn of a new year produces an energizing and exciting feeling of the adventures and possibilities that lie ahead. While for others, it is a time of reflection and resolve. It’s different for everyone.  However, for grieving parents, a new year is often the beginning of another cycle of missed milestones and loss. The joy of a new year may be shadowed by the moments and memories that would have happened. That first day of school picture on the front step. The walk across the stage at graduation to accept their diploma and start a new phase in life. The last practice driving session before their big driver’s test. Perhaps you are a parent facing the new year in a mix of joy and grief, or perhaps you are close to someone who is.  How can we support bereaved parents during these missed milestones?

Three Ways to Support Bereaved Parents

  1. Say their child’s name: It is the greatest gift you can give a grieving parent. As time goes by, less and less people say their name and most grieving parents ache to hear it.  Will it make them sad?  Probably not, the sadness is already there.  You might get tears of joy from them for remembering.
  2. Remember their child’s birthday: You could honor the memory of their child by mailing a birthday card to their parents or donating to an organization as if it were a birthday gift. Remembering a birthday is a gesture of love and – as the years go on – fewer people will have it on the calendar. Be the friend that remembers.
  3. Imagine and share: Picture what things that child might have been doing at this age in the new year. Maybe they would be going off to college. The bereaved parents may want to discuss where they think the child would have gone. It’s ok to talk through these fantasies and allow them to grieve these experiences they were unable to have. Listen to them share their feelings and think of how they may want to celebrate that milestone.
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