Families often want to do something to commemorate their child’s birthday or the date of their death. Balloon releases have been popular in the past, but I’ve seen articles about balloons polluting the environment and harming animals. And here in Texas, paper lanterns, which are popular in many areas, can be dangerous fire hazards.
So some of us were thinking of creative alternatives to memorialize our child on their birthday or anniversary of their death. I asked parents in a couple of grief groups what they had done.
Here are a few ideas parents shared. These are not my ideas, although I wish I’d thought of them. I simply compiled them.
Go into an area bakery on your child’s birthday. Pay for a cake to be picked up by another family that day, a cake for another child close to your child’s age. Totally anonymously so as not to put a damper on their celebration.
Dine at your child’s favorite restaurant. Pay for another family’s meal. Again, totally anonymously.
Buy gifts appropriate for the age your child would be or the age they were when they passed. Donate them to a children’s home or a local children’s hospital.
Donate books in your child’s name to his school library.
Donate sports equipment to her school’s athletic department. And have the whole family and friends show up at a game to cheer on the school team!
Plant a tree each year and watch them grow! Enjoy the wildlife that comes to live in the trees.
If your child loved the outdoors, get friends and family together on their birthday or anniversary day to help with a workday on a local hiking trail or bike trail. Maybe they can even name an obstacle on the trail for your child!
For children that were runners or athletes, as a group enter a charity 5K walk/run. Wear t-shirts with your child’s name and picture. Walk or run in his memory together. Have fun and help raise money for a good charity.
If your child loved animals, spend the day volunteering at the local animal shelter.
Instead of balloons, why not have a Butterfly release? Here is a website with more information: http://www.butterfly-gifts.com/livebutterflyreleases.html
If your child was an adult when he passed, spend the day serving the area food bank or serving a meal at a homeless shelter. Bring a birthday cake or cupcakes to share.
If your adult child was the victim of domestic violence, perhaps the family could spend a day serving at a shelter for battered women or help with community event to bring awareness to the issue and prevention.
For those who were active in their church, maybe the church would let the family plant a garden on the grounds.
Other charities where you could have a group work day to honor your child’s memory include:
A blood drive through the local blood bank
Habitat for Humanity home build
Spring garden planting at a hospice center or rehab center
If your child was a musician, how about getting some of his musician friends together to do a free concert in a park or at a nursing home, rehab center, or open mic night at a coffee shop.
So maybe we should pass on the balloon release this year. There are many ways we can remember our child on his or her birthday or on the anniversary of their death. Why not do something that helps our community and helps us heal?
If you have other ideas, please share them in the comments.