For what would have been Ethan's first birthday, we invited family and very close friends over for a gathering. In lieu of gifts, our family brought new books to donate to the Children's Hospital in Ethan's memory. We also held a family baseball game (this idea came about because we enjoyed watching baseball together as a family for the short time Ethan was here). We had t-shirts made for everyone of our favorite team with the number 1, as well as little keepsake baseball cards of Ethan with a poem on the back that I wrote to honor his day. We did have cake, but rather than sing "happy birthday", my husband and I said a little something beforehand, thanking our guests for coming and allowing us to fill what would have been Ethan's first birthday with wonderful family memories in his honor. We decorated Ethan's grave, and also brought out balloons.
Overall, my husband and I felt that the day turned out beautiful, and as best as it could have possibly been without Ethan here. Also, because Ethan was blessed with lots of very small cousins, the book donation allowed them to feel as if they were contributing in a special way too to help share Ethan's memory. Below are a few photos from our day.
Decorations at Ethan's spot
Some of the books we collected to donate in Ethan's memory
If you'd like to see more photos from our celebration, you can Ethan's Memorial Site by clicking here.
Did you read Wendi's story above? It's beautiful(!) and she is one of the strongest people I have ever met- which is why I love that girl. She handled E's first birthday with grace. I, unfortunately, tried and failed. But everyone handles grief and different anniversaries in diverse ways. This is the story of Lila's first birthday...
These pictures are of Lila's balloons struggling to take flight in the crazy wind and rain.
(If you decided to honor someone with a balloon release- make your message tags small, ours were weighing the balloons down because they were a half sheet size and were laminated.)
Here they are getting stuck in the tree because of a down draft, they did eventually let loose though. As you can see, it was not an ideal day for an event such as a release.Despite the lousy weather, the balloons made it OUT OF STATE and we received correspondence in the mail saying, "I found this, this is amazing.. You have touched our family's heart... etc" One balloon was found by a man on EASTER Sunday which was awesome in itself. The balloons had sat through a Michigan winter, under snow, and the leftover scraps were found half a year later. This lifted my heart and put a smile on my face. I was grateful that even a nasty day couldn't stop our little one's memory from being shared. I was certain, as was the first receiver of a balloon, that God took it there. The first family who found one had gone through their own big tragedy the year before and it really meant something to them when they found our message in their yard during spring clean up.
We added a page to Lila's website for the photos from that day and to log the balloons found- if you'd like to visit it- click HERE.
Q: What do you do to honor your child's memory on their birthday? Maybe you do something with family, or maybe you find it best to keep the day low key and quiet? Either way, we'd love to hear - feel free to share as much (or as little) as you'd like.
For parents who have yet to reach this first milestone, we realize how difficult this day can be. We've been there too. Just remember, there is no right or wrong way to handle such a difficult day, and we encourage you to just do what you feel is best in your heart. If you'd like to talk, we are here for you! - You are not alone, so please reach out if you need it.