Posted by: Jody Glynn Patrick | 06/06/2014

Lighting a solitary candle on our child’s birthday….

cake for blogThere is no cake to make, no present to buy. No candles to light, no song to sing. The party is forever over.

We commemorate a person’s birth as their “special day”, but when it is our child’s birth day, it is our day, too. It is the day when we are born into the role of parent. Our dreams draw breath.

My sister confided just yesterday that one of the most wonderful experiences she has had with her daughter was right after her daughter became a mother. About the fifth day of her visit to help out, Susan heard her daughter boo-hooing in the bedroom. She rushed in and found the new mother holding her newly born daughter in front of her.

“What’s wrong?” Susan gasped, seeing the baby still alive and seemingly well. She was wondering if this was what post partum depression looked like!

“I just never knew I could love somebody this much,” her daughter replied, sobbing.

Susan laughed as she told me that, recalling that she’d had that same wonderment after each of her children were born. As did I, with each of mine.

Perhaps you did, too. And perhaps you also were stirred by that emotion to vow to always keep them safe, to always do everything on their behalf.

Then this person that we love so much we can’t even begin to express it … is gone. Whether through accident or sickness, murder, suicide or sudden death syndrome, with no explanation – we feel we have failed. And on a birthday, of all days of the year, the loss of our child is biting.

The bereaved parents who write comments here are helping acknowledge that pain and are encouraging other parents through it – they can help you make it through the day. We are here. We understand. We cannot make it “right” but we can help you bear the unbearable and get through this day. Walk in our shadows. You can do this.

My thoughts are with each of you as you muddle through a birthday, or make it the one that you find you finally can bear with a soft smile of remembrance. My thoughts are with you on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and all of those days which were special to you with your child –many of them special for no reason at all. Regardless of their numbers, there were not enough of those days.

We get it.

Rather than fight your sorrow, acknowledge it. I’m not suggesting you dwell in it, if you can move on; healing is different for everyone and only you know when you can sing “happy birthday” and mean it for another child. But you will, my friend. You will. Take courage from that promise.

Thanks to the parents who write comments. You have no idea how much you are lightening a load for a person you may never meet. Thank you for reaching out.




  1. It’s so true, the comments from others who understand mean *so* much to me.

  2. so very true…thank you! I read this just in time for my son’s birthday, this Friday, june 13…he would have been 24 years old…he died at 19. we will still be making his favorite cake – Italian wedding cake and singing him well wishes. we will be beginning our day in prayer at mass and visiting his bench that sits in a park by a river- the bench was donated by friends. we will eat together and laugh and cry and I will take some quite time during the day in my meditation garden and sit, smile, wonder, cry, release, and hope that my energy will find my son’s energy and calm my heart and soul for a while that day. I will hold my belly as I remember carry that baby of mine, as my womb remembers and twinges with lingering memories…I will be strong and weak, and remember the two can be held together and I will still be okay in the end. I will breathe in memory and breathe out sorrow, allowing my mind, body and soul to try and reach a balance. I will look at my flowers and remember his huge grin as the daisies dance in the wind, reminding me I am still living and so is he…in ways I do not understand, but I try and accept through this journey of losing a child…

  3. Beautifully said Amy. Sending you prayers and good thoughts on this special day. I, too, have gotten birthday cakes for Chris as well as little presents for his room or for the house in his name. It is healing for me to share Chris’ day with friends & family who remember him. You can’t do this journey alone. You have to mix time in private & time with those who love your child and can support you. I agree, your son & mine live on, just not physically with us. I believe they watch over us & want us to go on. I have had his funeral prayer card decorated with tiny flowers & put in a shadow box. In September, his birthday & death month, I place his framed card on the mantle piece with a candle beside it. It gives me comfort. I hope Chris sees it and knows he is forever in my heart & thoughts.

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