September 19, 2023
I know it may sound odd that a child could have a birthday “season,” but grieving parents often feel the, now familiar, dread/aching long before the actual birthday, anniversary, or holiday. For us, and many others, the buildup to Josh’s birthday is far more draining than the actual day. Yet, as soon as that day passes, we are left feeling emotionally and physically drained. I delve more into this aspect here.
Joshua would be 29 years old on October 2, 2023. Over the years we have done many things to honor him on that day or the days leading up to his birthday. I have listed many ideas we ourselves have done and many others our fellow grieving parents have shared with us on our page here.
But, most years, our honoring is simple. Each year since 2006, Pat and I take the day off from work. We know that we are fortunate to be able to do this. When Katrina was still at home, we would give her the option of joining us in whatever we chose to do that year. Some years she joined us and some years she just chose to go about her day as usual. We left the choice up to her, but she knew she was always welcome.
Both of us allow ourselves to just quietly sit with our grief on Josh’s birthday. We are at our most vulnerable on his special days. We often go to a church service, though usually not at our local one, because we don’t have the energy to chat or pretend on these days. We place flowers and balloons on his grave and often go to breakfast or a nice dinner, or spend time in nature, all in his honor. We always buy Josh a birthday cake and quietly sing Happy Birthday to him… out loud… just the two of us now. We light a candle in his memory, and we just spend time near each other, while allowing the other to grieve however they need to.
We always call or receive a call from Katrina just to chat about regular life things. Hearing her voice is our greatest gift and it is a natural way for us to prepare to reenter our regular life duties and responsibilities. The next morning, we arise weary, yet relieved that we have made it through another birthday without him.