Celebrating While Grieving: Ideas for Birthdays After Your Child Has Died | Still Playing School

Celebrating While Grieving: Ideas for Birthdays After Your Child Has Died

By Devany | Labels: ,
When a baby or child dies, their grieving families can be unsure as to how to celebrate their birthdays. We should be planning a party and instead we are anticipating one of our most difficult days. How do we mark the years by celebrating the birthdays of the children who are no longer here to blow out their candles? 

I can hardly believe that it's almost been three years since our daughter Violet was born (and died two and a half days later). In some ways it seems like only yesterday but a lifetime in others. Grief does strange things to your sense of time.

Each year our children bake and decorate a cake for their sister. They plan all of the details from flavor to candles, sing to Violet, and celebrate her just as we would if she were still with us. It's important for them to see that just because she is gone physically doesn't mean we don't honor her as a member of our family even still.

In addition to the traditional birthday cake, these ideas of ways to celebrate year after year have been lovingly borrowed from other grieving families. It heals our hearts to continue to celebrate her brief life on her special day.

For her first birthday we asked friends and family to hand out Random Act of Kindness Cards in memory of Violet as they did kind deeds for strangers asking nothing in return. The  love passed along that day brought happiness and Violet's sweet face to so many new people.

Last year when she turned two we had to ask for friends and family members to show us that she is remembered. We requested photos of her name written or spelled in different ways. The collection is stunningly beautiful and creative! It shows us just how many people still think of our sweet girl. 

On and before November 2nd this year, we ask that you please feel free to join us in celebrating Violet in these ways once again! You can download the Random Act of Kindness cards here. You can send us a photo of her name or post it on our Facebook page any time. Please don't feel the need to wait for her actual birthday. If the mood strikes you to participate in these activities before the actual anniversary of her birth you'll be warming our hearts as we lead up to our most triggering grieving season as usually the anticipation leading up to the days is as difficult than the anniversaries themselves! 

This year as Violet turns three we'll be leaving on a much needed family vacation to the most magical place on Earth! We will be sharing our adventures with you on our social media accounts: FacebookInstagram, & Twitter. We hope to find ways to include and celebrate Violet on our vacation. It feels important to get away this year and spend time watching our living children's faces light up with joy.

It is incredibly healing to find a way to raise money in memory of your child for non-profits and foundations that support causes that remind you of your baby or child. This year we've thought of a few ways to support both Sweet Pea Project and HK Pinwheel Packs in memory of Violet as she turns three. 

When we return from Disney, we'll be hosting a birthday party for Violet. This celebration was the generous idea of my kind friend who owns Five Stone Kids where the event will be held. Local friends who come to play at Five Stone Kids and mention Violet's birthday will have their admission cost donated to Sweet Pea Project.  Please wear purple and join us to celebrate Violet and make a donation to a good cause! We are looking forward to having a party for our daughter!

Finally, I've created a list of books we recommend for siblings grieving the loss of a baby brother or sister. You will be able to order these online (as a way for long distance readers, friends, and family to participate) to be shipped and donated to HK Pinwheel Packs. This project was started by my dear friend and her family in honor of her son Holden who didn't survive pregnancy and birth. They now put together packages to send to hospitals to support siblings of babies that don't come home. More details on these books and how you can order to donate coming soon!

We've found that celebrating the birthdays despite the sadness to be incredibly healing both to us and our living children as they struggle to navigate the grief of losing a sibling. Being able to give back to two donations that benefit grieving siblings is the perfect way to heal our hearts while allowing you, our dear readers, to celebrate Violet with us this year. Thank you!

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  1. What a wonderful way to honor a special soul! I love that you've turned something so sad into a way to spread kindness!

  2. I love the way you are celebrating your daughter's life and doing wonderful things on her birthday.

  3. Thank you for the idea of posting her name on Facebook. I got over 25 posts that were like little gifts all day on my daughter Lauren's birthday. They were written with flowers, or push pins or candles, or yarn, on in the sand .... And many other creative ways. Thank you for helping me get through the day with more smiles than tears!

  4. Thank you for your posts. I lost my daughter at 6 months old, in December of 2013. We're always looking for meaningful ways to honor her little life on her birthday. I've saved several of your ideas, as they really resonated with me.