Throughout the first few weeks after we lost our son, Beau, we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support we received. Meals, cards, small gifts, texts, and many emails were all graciously sent to us during that difficult time. Some days there were so many that I had to set them aside or scroll past them because it was too much for me to process. At first.
As the months went on and we passed through our first set of major holidays without him, we continued to received fairly regular mementos and kind messages. When the anniversary of his death came around for the first time, our family and friends helped us remember him by carrying out a random act of kindness. We called these “Beauments," a term that a friend coined using our son’s name. Each of those Beauments helped to ease our pain just a little on that first anniversary.
But after that first year was over, we were in a strange place. We were still grieving as mightily as we were the first day after we lost him, but the world had moved on. When the gestures trickled away, I began to feel that he was being forgotten. I knew that many people still loved him, but in my mind, I was feeling panicked. I was just as fragile and shattered as before, but my grief wasn’t as acknowledged as it once was. People either didn’t know what to say, didn’t want to bring it up in fear of making me sad, or didn’t think of it as often as they did in those first raw months.
As our second year without Beau dragged on, a few moments stood out to me. It meant so much when I received a note one day telling me that a donation had been made in his name. Or when a friend texted me on a random Tuesday to say she was thinking of him. Someone posted on my Facebook page that they had carried out a Beaument in their home town. When friends or family members said his name out loud, my heart jumped for joy. Each time his existence was acknowledged, it meant that he wasn’t forgotten. Those gestures in that second year were almost more important to me than the ones we received the week he passed.
Here are seven things you can do for a bereaved mother in her second year of grief (and beyond):
1 | Send her a text, email, or a card on a random day telling her that you're thinking of her child. Use her child’s name. It needn’t be long or fancy, just a few words will brighten her day.
2 | Make a donation in her child’s name to an organization that will be meaningful to her. Or dedicate your yoga practice, hike, or solo jog one day to the memory of her child. Be sure to tell her that you did so.
3 | Perform a random act of kindness and write to her to tell her what you did, and that it was done with her child on your mind.
4 | Remember anniversaries that are important, such as the day her child passed, her child’s birthday/due date, or the major holidays including Mother’s Day. These are hard days to endure after loss, and your gesture will help.
5 | Take a picture of something beautiful you see and send it to her with a note that says you're thinking of her and her child.
6 | If it's an appropriate time and place, ask her how she's doing with her grief. Tell her in person that you're still there for her to talk about her child at any time. Acknowledging her grief after so much time has passed will be deeply appreciated.
7 | Commit to doing a few of these things from here on out. Whether it's the second year after the loss, the sixth, or the fifteenth, it'll always remind her that her child is loved.