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Many families find great comfort in the rituals they develop to maintain this connection to their child. Some of these rituals will be part of their day to day routine; simple behaviors that link them to their child. Others may be designed around special occasions throughout the year when families want to include their deceased child in the traditions of that day.
Families will discover what they find meaningful their own unique rituals in memorializing their child. This may be a keepsake or personal belonging. Many families attach significance to special symbols, a favorite song, color or an object that represents the child to them. It may also be an action such as visiting the grave, hosting a toy drive or tending to a special garden that links them to the child. Some may be private that only the parent is aware of the meaning while others may include family and friends.
The rituals can become a part of tradition and connect the past, present, and future as it continues through time. Rituals also give people a comfortable way of talking about the child, acknowledging the child’s presence.
The following are rituals and traditions that families have shared they have found helpful in keeping their child's memory alive and expressing their grief:
Keepsake box with personal belongings or album for pictures, hospital bracelets and records, footprints, hand prints, sympathy cards and mementos
Box with notecards that encourages family members and friends to write memories or message
Lighting a candle on special dates to acknowledge the child’s presence
Preparing the child’s favorite food or eating at their favorite restaurant on special dates
Visiting a favorite location of the child’s
Engaging in activities the child enjoyed
Naming a star
Planting a tree or garden, creating stepping stones or a bench
Releasing butterflies or balloons
Designing a quilt from special clothes
Creating a scrapbook, collage, or DVDs of photographs
Commissioning an artist rendering of how the child would look at another age
Purchasing special jewelry that represents the child
Fundraising, advocacy or supporting research
Donating toys, books or money in the child's name
Personalizing an ornament or a stocking symbolic of the child
Journaling, letters or poems , drawing, painting
Using movement or dance as self-expression
Blogs, online support groups and chat rooms
Placing flowers or special object that are meaningful on the children's graves