I saw this card in the Remembering a Life Journey Card set {which is totes adorbs and so thought provoking btw} and it got me pondering about my efforts towards remembering my Madelyn. (Outside the glaringly obvious, of course. What are the things I do to remember her that are just for ME?)

I think, especially when it comes to pregnancy, infant, and young children loss, it can be hard to ‘contribute to things that are important to them’. Our little people might not have had enough time earthside to discover that passion. I mean, as Madelyn’s mama, I can tell you she had a fiery personality even before she was born…but I also don’t know if she would have been a dog person or a cat person. Would she be into the arts or sports? …now, I guess that’s not really what we’re talking about – and also, it’s a unique question that loss parents have to explore…

Not to mention, when most people think about creating or ‘doing something meaningful in honor of their loved one’ their mind instantly goes to forming a foundation, or organizing a 5k, or golf tournament. Something big; something grandiose. {Be honest with me, isn’t that where your mind went too?!?}

Yes, those are beautiful ways to remember your marathon-running Mother and your avid golfer Grandpa…and also…that’s a lot of work, and stress, and ongoing upkeep if it becomes an annual thing – and all for a thing that might not have been their ‘thing’. Plus, do you really think the best way to honor your super strait-laced Great Aunt is with a motorcycle poker run? Or, when was the last time your stillborn child enjoyed a night of Bingo and bake sales?

You’re the only one who knows your person like you do. What did they like to do? What brought them satisfaction and joy? What was their personality like? Maybe they lit up the room when attending sophisticated, red carpet gala events – or maybe they preferred to sit in the coffeeshop around the corner and do the crossword.

I often hear grieving family members lamenting over how to keep their person’s memory alive – and then looking like a deer in the headlights when they realize ‘their only meaningful choice’ is starting a non-profit organization. Well, I don’t believe that to be the case at all.

The littlest actions can leave the biggest imprints on the heart. So, I’d like to share some ‘little’ suggestions to honor your loved one, and their important causes. These are suggestions I’ve seen, heard, and/or done myself. What is most important, I believe, is that you find an activity or cause that is important to you while honoring your person and their personality. You’ll see, most of these are not earth shattering, world changing ideas – oftentimes they can even go unnoticed to everyone but those that truly matter:
  • A young woman’s grandmother died about the same time she experienced a miscarriage. Grandma loved to crochet and she passed that love of creating onto her granddaughter. Now, that young lady crochets hats, blankets, and tiny angel wings to donate to hospitals, who in turn, give her creations to other parents who don’t get to take their baby home with them. Mama does this in honor or both her grandmother and her stillborn child.
  • An uncle adored coffee – all kinds of coffee – to the point that every day, on his way to work, he swung through the drive thru to grab a cup. Now anytime his nephew orders from a coffeeshop he gives – and hears – his uncle’s name broadcast by the barista when his order is ready [they don’t really care what name they call as long as you come get your drink].
Note: Another common exercise in coffeeshops is the ‘pay it forward coffee chain’ – where you pay for the order of the car behind you in the drive thru. While this is a lovely idea, there has been some backlash as to it’s true effect [and implied obligation]. I’ve been known to leave an extra big tip for the baristas [who’s average salary is just over minimum wage] as a way to pay it forward. Or, I will pay cash and ask them to use the change to buy someone’s coffee who they believe could use a little pick me up – not necessarily the next person’s coffee, just the coffee of someone who looks like receiving a little goodwill might make their day. {And if I’m feeling really posh, I’ll do both!}
  • There are groups all over the world that paint and hide little rocks for others to find and brighten their day. The best part about this project is you can join one of those groups {just search Facebook or Reddit} to get decoration ideas – or not. You can be a true artist and create delicately ornate designs – or not. You can use the best of the best in paint supplies – or not. And you can even create a way for others to let you know they found your stones – or not. I bet you already have the supplies laying around too! Use the half-empty, half dried out tempera paint little Robby needed in second grade and go outside to find some rocks. Then finger paint them and put them right back where you found them!
  • One of my personal favorite things is to go into a store and tape the amount of money the item costs to the back of that item, then put it back on the shelf. When I’m feeling down, I find a few small items that I believe my Madelyn would like – given her current ‘would be’ age. As she has ‘grown’ into her teenage years I’ve been spending more time in the cosmetic and beauty aisles… Maybe it’s a paddle brush, or the fancy {for Target} lip gloss. Sometimes it’s a small set of Legos {I’m not Daddy Warbucks}, or a book…or the latest Taylor Swift CD… The game for me is to make the money and note as invisible as possible from the front. I want someone to be surprised when they pick up the item and see it’s already paid for [not the other way around]
  • Why stop there? Go to the local bakery or grocery store and prepay for the child’s birthday cake that’s been ordered but not picked up. Or pay someone’s final layaway payment {does anyone even offer layaway anymore?} Or pay off a child’s school lunch debt…
  • Another new-to-me idea that I love comes from a good friend. Her brother was an avid scotch drinker and taught her everything she knows about the beverage. At least once a year her family picks a day {it doesn’t have to be a birthday or angel-versary either}, each bring a bottle, and sit around for a scotch tasting while sharing memories of him.

I was once told to ‘tithe where your heart is filled’. I’ve taken that to heart and taken it to mean both inside and outside my place of worship. These small acts of kindness are my version of tithing. But do they all have to involve spending your hard-earned money? Nope – not even a little bit. The best thing you can donate is your time!

  • Maybe your person loved to read – volunteer at the library or senior center reading books
  • Or they loved to cook – cook and serve meals at your local shelter
  • Their dog was their best friend – spend time at the animal rescue interacting with the puppies
  • Puzzles were their favorite – go to retirement communities and put them together with the residents {If you do want to spend a bit, go to garage sales and find puzzles to bring with you}
  • Maybe they loved to learn – volunteer at the community center to teach a subject you are well versed in
  • Or, they were an avid blood donor or chose to donate their organs – volunteer to call others to ask them to do the same

Now, if you’re like me, and most people for that matter, you’ll probably want to stay anonymous when you can. I mean, I don’t want the attention, for them to feel the need to pay my kindness forward, or for anyone to feel the obligation to thank me either… And also, I like to be able to see that someone’s day was brightened because of me! Consider creating a special hashtag {mine is #Moments4Maddie} and ask people in your note {if you include one} to share on social media using that hashtag. You’ll be able to follow your acts of kindness discreetly just by searching.

After a few ‘rounds’ of these acts of kindness, I even had some business card sized notes with the hashtag pre-printed {just on my home computer – nothing fancy} and I keep them in my wallet. When the urge strikes to have my own ‘moment 4 Maddie’ and do something spontaneously I can just pull it out to include it.

Honestly, the possibilities here are endless here. And, I love this topic so much I’ve been known to ‘accidently’ host 2-hour brainstorming sessions on the subject.

I’d love to know the causes you choose to give back to {financially or otherwise} in honor of your person. Please get in touch and share!