When I was a teenager my family lived next to a cemetery. My brother and I had the job of mowing the cemetery and trimming around all the tombstones. (No “weed eaters” for us back then). Sometimes, as I mowed, I would stop and read the tombstones. I would read the names and the date the person was born and when that person died; but that was all I knew about him or her.
Sometimes, like around Mother’s Day or perhaps the birth date or death date of the deceased, I would find flowers by the tombstone. That told me that the person in the grave was being remembered by someone. Sometimes I saw the person bringing the flowers and saw him or her standing for a while at the grave.
As a teenager I thought the person by the grave was most likely thinking about the person in the grave, and I probably assumed that the deceased was a mother or father or a grandparent. However, by reading dates on the tombstones I realized that, in some cases, the deceased person was young. This meant it was someone’s child.
Now, I realize that some of those whose birth and death dates revealed that they were adults, were ALSO someone’s child. Our daughter, Crystal was thirty-six when she died. Yes, she was an adult, but she was and still is our child. The death of a child, no matter what age, seems so wrong and unnatural.
We considered the funeral for our daughter a “celebration.” We did not celebrate her death, of course. We celebrated her life. That was more than eleven years ago, but we continue to celebrate Crystal’s memory.
Parents find different ways to celebrate the memory of their deceased child.
At our recent annual BASIS Breakfast, the speakers, Rev. Charles and Judy Gates, brought a book they had put together depicting their daughter, Heather, who died from leukemia at age 24. It was a book of pictures spanning Heather’s life. It was well done and very meaningful. I noticed that it was done several years after Heather died. Ways of celebrating the memory of someone we love don’t have to be created right after the time of death.
Celebrating the memory of our children should be an ongoing thing. Bereaved parents never want to forget their child or have their child be forgotten by others.
One of the ways my wife and I celebrate Crystal’s memory is to plant a tree each year on her birthday. We will plant the twelfth tree in a few weeks. Every time I look at one of the trees we planted and marked with a heart- shaped stone I think of our daughter. Those growing trees help us celebrate her memory. In addition to planting trees, my wife has made picture albums, we have written a book, “Until It’s All Crystal Clear,” and I have written some poems.
God remembers us and He remembers our sorrows in the loss of our children. “You have seen me tossing and turning in the night. You have collected all my tears and preserved them in your bottle. You have recorded every one in your book.” Psalm 56:8
Surely, He also remembers and celebrates with us as we celebrate the memory of our children, knowing that, one day, we can celebrate together in heaven forever, not as a memory, but in person!
I would be interested in hearing how some of you who read this blog celebrate the memory of your child. CONTACT me to share your ideas!