Sunday, March 13, 2011


Almost every year since DJ passed away I have had a DJ's day in honor of his birthday. His passion in life was skateboarding, he wanted to become a professional skateboarder and as many of you know, skateboarding cost him is life. Every year around his birthday in May I have had the opportunity to give away skateboard helmets to the community for free. We have a band, free t-shirts with DJ's logo on it, free chocolate cupcakes ( he loved chocolate-even hid it in his sock drawer from his sister), free water bottles and skate stickers. I have been very fortunate through donations to give away over 1200 helmets to local skateboarders.

All this said, DJ's birthday is coming up. It may seem like I am thinking about if awfully soon if you haven't lost a child. We the bereaved tend to think about things like this far ahead of time and over the years I have realized that the anticipation of the birthday is usually worse than the actual day.

I decided last year that I would not do a DJ's day again this year. Last year and every year it is emotionally, physically and mentally difficult. There is a lot of joy seeing the skateboarders, giving kids the shirts for free, watching the community come together to celebrate DJ's birthday...But it is also exhausting trying to get donations (usually around $5000 worth for everything). It's painful telling DJ's story over and over, and telling little children and especially the parents to make sure their children wear the helmets I am giving them. It is a little stressful wondering if the 888 helmets are going to end up on Craig's list, a closet or in a garage sale instead of on some one's head.

Parents I have spoke with have many different things that they do as well for their child's birthday. Some have family and friends over for a dinner to remember their child. Some have cake, some do not. Many release balloons or light fireworks to honor their child. Some go to the grave site and decorate it for the day. A few I know take the day off of work and stay home to cry in private. One woman I know read her son's autopsy that day--she later stated she didn't think that was such a good idea afterwards--she doesn't recommend doing it for anyone. There are some parents that do a huge event, like a bike ride to raise money for a children's hospitals. Some have river cruise rides to raise funds for scholarships and some have golf outings to raise money for life saving machines in honor of their child.

My advice to anyone that has lost a child and the birthday is coming up--do what feels right to you. There are so many things we can do to honor our child's birthday and life. There are huge things but there are also smaller, private things that mean just as much. There are some days that I think the mere fact of getting out of bed and standing against the day is honoring enough. If you can, include the rest of your family in remembrance of your child. Remember your child in a positive way for I am sure that is how they would want you to remember them. Celebrate their life on this day, make it a day to celebrate the living your child did instead of grieving their death. We have plenty of days to grieve our child, perhaps their birthday is the one time of year that we have the world's permission and a bit of understanding to celebrate them. To speak openly about them without people thinking we are "still talking about it".

You will find that the anticipation of the event is way worse than the actual day and that there is an invisible line of relief that is crossed after the day is over. You will get through the day because there is no other option, 24 hours come and 24 hours go. But try to get through it by remembering the good, the love you have for your child, the happy memories, not just the death--our children are so much more than that!!

In honor of DJ's birthday this year I am planning on having a book signing at Parable's Book Store in Omaha Nebraska in May. I haven't confirmed the date yet but will let you all know. Thanks for reading and listening to my rambles-- Lisa-forever DJ's Mom

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