Date published: 20 May 2015 by Anna Jackson
Remember that grief is not something you get over, it is something you walk through. My shoes are worn and my feet hurt from this walk. (Author unknown)
In our society the death of a child is, thankfully, a rare occurrence. However every year Rainbow Trust supports families who face the death of their child and offers support in the coming years as families come to terms with their changed lives. Every year our teams across the country hold Tribute Days for the families we support to come together to remember their child. I am often asked about these days of remembrance and why they are so important. So what is their value?
- Parents tell us that the second year of bereavement is often harder than the first – everyone remembers the first birthday, Christmas and other special occasions – people make an effort to make contact and tell parents that they are thinking of them and offering support – as years go by, people forget – the second year seems as though it is ‘life as usual’ and families are left alone with their grief. A Tribute Day can provide a focus and a chance to share memories
- Watching other children grow up – particularly younger children who ‘overtake’ the child who has died in terms of age and/or experience and ability can give rise to feelings of anger and resentment – it is difficult to know where to take those feelings – a Tribute Day can offer a release
- As time goes by, fewer people mention the child by name, a Tribute Day may be the only day in the year when someone other than the immediate family mentions the child by name and places them within the family context
- They give families the opportunity to meet others who have gone through similar experiences – a father once said at a Tribute Day “you walk in here and you are a part of a club that you didn’t know existed and one that you certainly didn’t want to join but it is such a relief to know that there are other members who understand.”
- Tribute Days allow surviving siblings to see that they are not alone – and that it is okay to laugh and have fun
- It shows more recently bereaved families that they will cope – not every day and not in the same way however it does offer hope that life will go on – something that they can doubt in the first weeks following a death
A Tribute Day also shows families that their child made an impact and that people want to remember them and the contributions they made during their lives.
Find out more about Rainbow Trust Remembers Week.
For child bereavement verses, Rainbows through Clouds offers uplifting poems and readings compiled exclusively for Rainbow Trust.