Family Traditions – Remembering a Loved One Who Died
Eighteen years ago from the day I’m writing this, my dad died. December 8th, 1996. I’ve heard from others that they don’t worry about the date some they love died, and think about them on their birthday instead…and for some that might work. In fact, I don’t remember the date my grandparents died, but with my dad it’s different. This date made a huge impact on my life, and I can’t help but think of him on this date.
That being the case, I’ve decided I would like to be intentional about this day – since I think of him anyway on the anniversary of his death, I’d like to build traditions that honor his life.
A Sharing Tradition
My children never got to know their grandfather, so the simplest, and most meaningful tradition for me is to talk about my dad on this day.
I haven’t been great about sharing these details with my kids thus far. A few stories I’ve told, yes, but not many. I think I didn’t know where to start. When you love someone so much you want your kids to know that person, ALL of them, the way that you knew them; and only telling stories seems to be not nearly enough. But I guess I’m coming to the realization that this all-or-nothing attitude will certainly not bring my dad into my kids life, so I would like to give what I can of him.
I think it’s high time I start sharing with my kids.
What bits of him can I share? They’ll never know how wonderful his laugh was, the way he could make the most mundane thing funny, or how it felt to hold his hand; but perhaps I can give them little glimpses of this person who shares a middle name with my second born.
Today I start a tradition of sharing and telling whatever stories I love most about my dad to my kids. They need to know how much his love still brings to my life and I need the reminder that even though it’s starting to feel like a long time ago, I did have a dad and he loved me so much.
I would really like to hear if you have other ideas for passing along a memory of a loved one to your kids. Will you let me know?
Update 2019 – This year I used the service Southtree to convert a tape my dad recorded of himself playing guitar into digital files. I’ve listened to it myself and I’m going to play a couple of my favorite songs for my kids. This isn’t a paid endorsement, I just found the service easy to use in case you’re looking for a way to preserve family memories, or access memories on vhs, film or tape.
More Resources for Processing Grief with Children:
- Creating a Memorial Scrapbook
- Children’s Books About Death and Grief
- Writing Through Grief – tips on telling your story
64 Positive Things to Say to Kids
Subscribe to Download your FREE printable of 64 Positive Things to Say to Kids
My mom always loved red birds so I shared with my grandkids that whenever I see a redbird it reminds me of my mom and I say to myself “Love you mom.” Every time now we see a redbird together, someone points it out and that we are remembering my mom. They will tell me when they have seen a redbird and how they thought of my mom. So sweet. My mom also loved the hot fudge brownie ice cream and fish sandwich at a restaurant. We will go there and enjoy some together.
I’ve been loving the “Throwback Thursday” on facebook and have taken pictures of old pictures and post them on facebook.
Julie at Off to the park
Thanks for sharing this post. My Dad passed away two years last Saturday. I too remember the anniversary of his death as does my Mum. My eldest was not quite 3 when Dad died, it was such a hard time for all of us esp her. My youngest was only 15 months old so didn’t get to know her Poppy like her sister. We take our girls to the church where his remains are kept, which we call “Poppys memory place” and talk about how much we miss him. I hope to be able to remember stories of him that I can tell my girls as they get older. 🙂
Whats Your Grief Thank you for that link. When my dad first died I remember being so SCARED that I would forget things about him. And of course, I have..and yet, what I discovered, and what I continue to discover is that so many other people hold memories about my dad too, and I’m so grateful when they’ll tell em stories about him. It was wonderful for me to find that the weight of rememebring this person didn’t rest solely on my shoulders.
Whats Your Grief
Andi, thanks for sharing our link! I would also ad that we have a post specifically about kids who didn’t know or don’t remember someone who died that may have some other helpful ideas that we have gathered from people over the years. https://www.whatsyourgrief.com/when-kids-cant-remember-am-i-like-my-daddy/
Alissa, this is a great post. My husband didn’t know my dad, who died 15 years ago, and it is something that always makes me sad but I totally agree that I love when he mentions my dad!
I too lost my dad before my daughter was born. We have a framed photo of him in the living room and on his birthday and death day I light a candle in front of that photo. I also make a pint of mentioning things my daughter and my dad have in common. I.E. they both have blue eyes (like me), they have the same favourite food – and my daughter loves to sing, which my dad loved too.
Hi sweetie! How about every once in a while, tell the kids a story about your dad and have them design a quilt square to go with the story? Some could be painted, some dyed or embroidered, etc. And perhaps get a few squares of fabric made with photos of him. The quilt can grow and eventually be big enough to curl up with as a family. U0001f60a
Suzanne Charlton Fetter
My brother passed away in February of this past year. I thank God that my boys were old enough to know their uncle mike, pretty well. It makes me sad that they won’t have him around as they grow older. When he passed away, my sister in law, asked each of us, if we wanted anything of his. I chose a number of his neckties (he was an accountant – so he had a bunch) I plan to pull them out, whenever my boys have a job interview and let them pick which ever one they want to wear…
Creative With Kids
Thanks Bryony. I like the idea of using hat a a prompt to remind you to talk about them.
Creative With Kids
Zoe – I haven’t really had photos out either, but I like what someone else said about having something out that reminds you to talk about them from time to time. I told a couple little stories at dinner time last night. I did still feel a little lost as to what was important to talk about, so I just started with something I remembered that was funny that he always did and figured that here is no perfect way to share with them. Best wishes to you.
Dawn aka PricklyMom
Just keep telling stories! And show them the pictures. Hugs to you, Alissa. Thank you for all you do.
You can also get story books where you put in the names of the characters. I have one from my childhood and it always makes me think of the people in it and what an adventure we had. Lots of different stories online to chose from x
My brother died before my kids were born. I found some old sheets that my mum had kept from our childhood that had cartoon characters on them. I cut out a square from the sheets and wrapped them over a canvas so they could be used as artwork in my kids bedrooms. I get to look at them every night in their bedrooms and it prompts me to talk about him now and then. Maybe you have something of your dads that would make nice artwork??
Creative With Kids
Creative With Kids
Thank you Andi Anderson. I need to get out the photo album and search for one of me when I was their age, great idea.
This link shares some gift ideas for remembering loved ones, they might spark a memory.
I love the framed photo of a recipe, but it could be anything with their handwriting.
Or I love to show my kids pictures of my dad when he was their age or me with him, when I was their age.
What a wonderful idea! I love especially that you shared enough with your husband that he feels as if he knows your father’s personality.