Posted by: Jody Glynn Patrick | 05/23/2015

Honoring your dead child on Memorial Day

17217795335_f0000b4ec9_oI visited Daniel’s grave today with my grandson, Patrick Daniel, who was named in his honor. Patrick’s mother is Summer, pictured at the far left in this old photo of Summer, Brook and Daniel taken when my three oldest children were still young people full of promise. I sent her a text message with Patrick standing at Daniel’s grave, and she replied with three blue hearts. We always put blue flowers on his grave, as I did today.

Perhaps you’ll be at your child’s grave this weekend, too, whether they served in the military or whether they only lived long enough to take a couple breaths — or even none at all. We honor our dead children in general on Memorial Day, with fake flowers and real tears, regardless of their age or affiliations and regardless of the years they have been gone. It always hurts.

Though I enjoy cemeteries — I’ve put nearly 10,000 photos of tombstones on find-a-grave for families who want to see or find tombstones of their relatives, and always (always) photograph any child’s grave I see along the way — I hate visiting Daniel’s grave. I remember always the first time we were there, and the death seems so recent, though it has been years now. It never feels remote. It always feels fresh, as does the ache.

Afterwards, we returned to my home, since my grandson is mine for the entire weekend, and we planted six trees — five for the five grandchildren I love, and the sixth in honor of Daniel, who didn’t live long enough to have a child of his own. He’s my forever 16-year-old boy. It should be obvious why we selected evergreen trees, which don’t even seem to die in winter.

Regardless whether you are able to visit a grave or not (I realize that not all grieving parents have that option, and others aren’t able emotionally to do so), our thoughts will naturally return to our dead children on this holiday. I wish for you a moment of certainly that it wasn’t all in vain — that your child’s life meant so very much. Your child mattered, and your love for them is indestructible. Like their energy, their very essence, it on this plane of existence — even if they do not. Yet they are with us always, in our hearts and in our heads and in our future.

It’s hard. Talk to a friend or someone comfortable remembering your child with you, or helping you honor them in your way this weekend. We’re here for you as well, if you need an ear or want a shoulder. We are here, a collective of people who actually do understand what you are going through. We can help.

To all of our children… you mattered. You changed our lives for the best simply by entering our worlds. And we loved you then and love you always.




  1. Thank you Jody, for always “being there” with caring and compassion, exactly when it’s needed.

  2. Thank you for being there.

  3. I know the pain will never go away; it has been 1 ½ years now and it still seems like yesterday


    Mohd Shahrudin Marjie

  4. It has almost been a year since cancer took our son Daniel. After reading your post I cried. My Danny died at the age of 33. He had been ill most of his life and also left. no children. His illness prevented him from ever having children. Having a child was a dream of his. He loved children. Our only surviving son is going to have a little boy in September and he will be named after the uncle he will never know and remembered by a family that can’t let go. I try everyday to be brave like my Danny. There are days I just can’t .

  5. How do u find Counseling

    • Susie, you can google for grief counselors in your area or ask for a referral from your doctor or mental health provider. Ask specifically for their qualifications as a grief counselor.

  6. Monday 16th November is Katja’s anniversary date. It is only the second one. I do feel different from last year, certainly not ‘better’, but more aware of the depth of what I have lost. I miss her more, long for her with such pain and sorrow. My other children and all of Katja’s friends look to me for comfort and guidance with all this pain. I can do this, as I did last year for her.I can do anything for her. We will have a candle lighting in church at 6pm, I will read certain things which have given me strength and hope over the past 12 months. We will walk down to her, candles, flowers, then be together at my house.I feel better trying to help others. My darling would expect that of me. I love her so so much.

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