When It’s Been YEARS-How to Bless a Grieving Parent

Please hear me. 

I do NOT blame you that my son and my sorrow have drifted down your list of “things that need attention”.  Your life is as busy as mine once was and your calendar full of commitments and celebrations that require your attendance.

There is no way you would know it’s 69 days until the fourth anniversary of Dominic’s sudden absence. 

There is no reason for you to be aware that as the southern landscape turns to spring, my heart and mind turn to death.  

But it’s the truth. 

As the rest of the world looks forward to Easter (and I do too-for the promise and hope it brings) I am dreading Holy Week.  Dominic was killed the Saturday before Palm Sunday and laid to rest the Monday after Easter.  So every year I relive it twice-once during Holy Week and once again (when the dates are different) according to the calendar.

And each year it feels lonelier and lonelier.  

Because each year fewer and fewer people remember or if they do, they don’t know how to offer that up as a blessing because it feels awkward or stiff.

So may I suggest a few things that most bereaved parents would absolutely LOVE for friends and family to say or do-especially as the months roll into years or even decades?

  • Send a card, message or text indicating that you DO remember.  And not just for the date of passing, but also for his or her birthday or other important milestone dates.
  • Send an electronic or physical copy of a photo.  It feels so empty to peruse the same photos over and over.  It is an invaluable gift to get one I haven’t ever seen before.  Every time it feels like I get a tiny new piece of Dominic to hold close to my heart.
  • If you have saved voice mails or videos-send those.  Not every parent can or wants to listen/watch these, but they are a gift nonetheless.  Just having them brings some comfort.
  • Post a memory on Facebook.  If the child’s timeline is still up, write something TO the child-did you share an experience, a class, a hobby-then speak to that.  Tell me how Dominic is still part of your life.  Because as long as his influence still lives, part of him lives also.
  • Speak his or her name in conversation.  I know it can be awkward.  But don’t shy away from mentioning my child in conversation just as you would if he were living.  If you are talking about an event in which he took part, please, please, please do NOT talk around him.  I remember.  You aren’t shielding me. It is so good for my heart to share these memories with other people.
  • If I post a photo or memory on Facebook, please don’t scroll past with the attitude “there she goes again!”.  I post because I will talk about Dominic just as I will talk about my living children as long as I live.  Yes, it’s the same photo-but I don’t have new ones because I CAN’T TAKE THEM, not because I don’t want them.  If you think it’s  “too much” I challenge you to cut off all (I mean ALL) communication with one of your living children for a week.  That’s just the tiniest taste of what it’s like.
  • If I plan some kind of memorial activity, participate if you can.  Personally I haven’t done this but many parents plan balloon releases or ask people to do a Random Act of Kindness in the name of their child.  If you are able, join in.

There is a common theme here:  if you think about my child, let me know.  

I will not forget Dominic.  

I couldn’t. 

But it is oh, so helpful to know that others aren’t forgetting either.  

missing child from arms

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

19 thoughts on “When It’s Been YEARS-How to Bless a Grieving Parent”

    1. My daughter Laura went home to heaven April 13, 2017. Easter was April 16, that year & my birthday was April 17. It was a painful week but we still went to Easter service. Please speak her name & tell me you do remember. Helps me & means so much to my sad heart ♥️. She’s been gone 6 yrs this April. Thankyou Melanie for your kind sad words too.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a blessing it is to see that you moms all feel the same thing I feel. The dates, the sun, the spring when everything is becoming brand new I am breaking again and again with old pain, pain that silently I now mostly carry alone. I, too, have found it easier for everyone else if I don’t mention Todd too much. How sad is that for people to think it makes us uncomfortable to mention the name of our children? I have found that it is them who are uncomfortable because of my tears. I have come to welcome the tears as a way to release my love without screaming.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My Brian died on Holy Saturday…..you are so right, his loss has two dates…….I’m so sorry you feel this, too..
    Easter used to be my favorite religious holiday/holyday…..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My Julie has been gone since June 11,1991. She was 7. She has Ben gone 4 times longer than she was alive. I hardly ever bring her up to most people because I just get silence. Even from family. Very few welcome her memory. Such silence for such a beautiful girl. It doesn’t make me mad, just sad that she has been forgotten to so many people. I have a huge family. I have distanced myself from many because of this. I wonder if they even know that’s why? I still grieve, and I think they don’t ever think about that.
    My wandering thoughts come in the evening when life is quiet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That slow but relentlees build up to the dates hover in the shaddows od our minds don’t they Melanie.
    I can feel them as their tentacles reach out for me…😟
    But…thise “new” unexpected photographs or memories..what joy xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello-I came across your site many months ago. I’m unable to recall exactly where as I was searching for something, anything to help me deal with the death of my 23 year old niece. She is/was my daughter’s cousin and best friend and also like a second child to me. I was on the telephone with my sister/her mother when the officer delivered the news. Forced to relive it over and over again as i frantically called my five siblings to deliver the news so they were able to rush to my sisters side to comfort her and be in attendance to share the devastating news with my elderly parents.
    I read your posts every every evening as I lie in bed. Somehow they bring me comfort. I thank you for that. I’m so sorry for the loss of your son-such a handsome young man. I truly share your pain. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sorry for your pain and loss. Thank you for sharing how the blog is helping your heart. What a precious gift you are giving your sister by choosing to stand with her and not run away even when the sorrow is overwhelming. May the Lord strengthen you and her so that you may hold onto hope. ❤


  6. “So every year I relive it twice-once during Holy Week and once again (when the dates are different) according to the calendar.”
    Your the first (that I have read) who acknowledges that the day our child went to heaven or were laid to rest are just as significant as the actual date. No matter what the calendar says the week of January 18 has my “last best Monday” which I cherish like a warm hug (we had a family dinner that was especially jovial) and a “weepy Wednesday” as my mind starts to replay the events of his last day. I tried to explain to my therapist that I find this therapeutic…. because on the 19th I put these most painful life altering memories back in my “box” and I continue living my new normal.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For months and into the first two years, every Friday night through Saturday morning my body felt everything all over again. Now, not as often. But the spring and the angle of the sun and the smells-my heart and body can’t ignore those. Yes, we find a way to put them in the “box” so that we can carry on. Praying that the Lord continues to give you strength to endure. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. My Brian had his accident on 7/14/15. He died on 7/20, his memorial service was on 7/25 and his 28tb Birthday was on 7/27. I asked another mother if I would eventually think only of the 7/20 as the date he left us, but I believe now that 7/14 will always be just as hard.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ALL the days/dates are hard. Even when it’s been years and years and only a mother’s heart pays attention and marks them. I pray that the Lord will overwhelm you with His love, grace and mercy and give you strength to endure. ❤


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