This April, we’ve had two anniversaries of tragic events that deeply touched our lives: Columbine High School and Virginia Tech. Many of us remember where we were when we heard the news and how fixed we were on media coverage. Some of us lived in towns where the victims lived; some of us lived far away. Even if we didn’t know the victims or their families, we all felt touched.
Despite how easily the news of these tragedies overshadows our days, we quickly pick up the pieces of our lives and get back to our daily routine. Not so for the families impacted by the tragedy; their lives are forever changed.
What can we do to help the families and honor those who’ve lost their lives? We can remember them and we can acknowledge the loss, whether it’s been two years or a decade. It can be as simple as a note or card around the anniversary of the death, letting them know that you are remembering their loved one and you’re thinking of them. If you have a sweet memory of the deceased or something special that always reminds you of them, share it. It will bring a happy memory at a time tinged with loss.
What if you want to do something more tangible? You can make a donation in their memory to their school, a library, a food bank, community nonprofit, or any organization that you feel is appropriate. Ask that an acknowledgement be made to a family member, or, just make a donation in their name because it feels good to honor their memory.
Your thoughtfulness and memories will not make the day or week more painful to family members; they’re already keenly feeling their loss. But your kindness might warm their heart. It helps to know that while their loved one is gone, their lives mattered, and we haven't forgotten.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.
Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons/Andreanna