Tabitha's death was hard on my husband, Isabelle and myself. She made a huge impact on our lives in the short time she lived on earth. It is very important to me that Tabitha remains part of our family and that we continue to include her as part of us.
Someone once said that Tabitha not only remains part of our family, but that she is the one around whom our lives are centered. It's true. We celebrate both Tabitha's birthday and the anniversary of her death. We volunteer in her memory. Most importantly, we make decisions for our living children with Tabitha in mind.
So … what exactly do we do?
In our home, we keep Tabitha's most memorable belongings on a shelf. We have pictures of her displayed throughout the house, just like we do our other children. We talk about Tabitha to our living children. When we have family photos taken or send greeting cards, we make sure that Tabitha is included by using a photo or symbol of her in the pictures and by signing her name to the cards. On the occasion that we meet someone new and they ask how many children we have, Tabitha is always included in our list of kids. Every day, I wear a necklace with the birthstones of all four of my children.
Twice a year, we volunteer at Ronald McDonald House in Tabitha's memory. Often, we visit the cemetery. When we go, we bring flowers, pinwheels or other small trinkets. On her birthday and anniversary of her death, we go to the cemetery and then embark on a family day that a child of Tabitha's age would enjoy. On these two special days, we also look at pictures, light candles, eat birthday cake and make donations in her memory.
Writing "Stella's Story" was another way for me to remember Tabitha. The words in the book were those I spoke to Isabelle following Tabitha's death. Throughout the writing process, selections were made keeping Tabitha in mind. Stella was chosen for the character's name because 'Stella' means 'star', which has become our family's symbol for Tabitha. Stella wears rose colored clothing because Tabitha's middle name was Rose. The family depicted in the story are cats, representing one of Tabitha's nicknames, 'Tabby', a common description of a cat. Making each decision throughout the publishing process was one more way to remember my child.
There are innumerable ways to remember those we have lost, to keep them present in our daily lives. There is no one method of remembrance that is better than another. What is important is to keep your loved one close to you in a way that brings you comfort. I hope this piece gives you a few ideas - and lots of inspiration - as how to remember your loved one.
Amanda is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and the Independent Author Network. Her first book, "Stella's Story: Dealing With Sibling Loss" is a winner of a 2018 Purple Dragonfly Award.