Getting people to talk about him
The part of our bereavement that is the most difficult for me is getting people to talk about him. It’s hard for a lot of people, they either don’t talk about him or it’s just an uncomfortable thing…
He does exist
It’s really important for me to let other people know that just because we’ve lost a child doesn’t mean that he didn’t exist.
Doing something in his memory
What gets me through my tough times is when I’m doing something in his memory. For example, I plan the team for the Jimmy Fund walk. We also established a scholarship at the high school in his memory. I find it very comforting when I do something that helps me remember and honor his life. I get a good feeling of satisfaction. Keeping his memory alive is very helpful.
Every year we do a skating fundraiser for Make-A-Wish. That’s one thing that keeps her alive in our minds.
Positive ways to honor our child
I guess we try to find positive ways to honor Paulina. You want to help do something that would make a positive difference to someone else’s life. That’s part of our healing process.
We were able to get handprints done at Children’s. From those handprints, we made charms for necklaces. Everybody got something different. Her handprint is on the front and the back of it, and her name is written on it. On the back of mine it also says her date of birth and date of death on it. It says “My little angel” on the back of my husband’s. We also got one for my son, which he placed on a necklace, and wears it on special occasions and when he asks to wear it.
Memorial for our child
We have a solar light and a little rock garden in our backyard that we made out there around this oak tree. We put the solar light underneath the oak tree which has become a memorial spot for Libby. We have a little stone marker out there. It’s a little rock that’s engraved and it says something like “For those days we have held in our hands for a short while, we hold in our hearts forever.”
Starting a high school scholarship
We started an award at the local high school. We’ve given it to a senior every year that is able to complete a goal regardless of any barriers that he or she might have. It’s not necessarily an A student for whom success comes to naturally; but rather to someone who has worked very hard and is able to accomplish a B. It’s to honor somebody who is a hard worker.
Creating lasting memories
I developed a very close relationship with the nurses, and on the night when he was dying, one of the nurses shared with me this idea of printing out letters with letterhead and envelopes with our family’s address on it, and asking people attending the wake and the different events to take it and write a memory of our child and send it back to us. That was such a terrific idea, and we did that. I had a printing friend who could do it for us, but anyone can do it with just address labels. So, starting on the day of the funeral, I started getting the letters in the mail, because people couldn’t articulate it well verbally, and we had over 1,000 people at his wake and I didn’t remember what was said about him during those days, it was such a blur, but to have something concrete like that, that you can create memories.