image Learning to live without your loved one is a long and difficult road to travel. Through books,support groups, blind luck, and the grace of God, I have learned many things that were of great help to me. I share three simple ideas here. I hope they help you on your journey.

In Memory of …

Shortly after my son’s death, and for a very long time, I wore a name bracelet my sister made for me with Jackson’s name spelled out in block letters. I wore it every day. I needed and wanted this tangible physical thing to help me honor my son and remind myself and others that his life mattered, a lot! To this day I still wear jewelry to remember and honor him; he is still very important in my life even though he has physically been gone for over a decade.

Teddy Bears Are Not Just for Kids

I have a few teddy bears that I cuddle with and sleep with and hold when I feel down and want to feel closer to Jackson. It is amazing the comfort it brings to have a small something to hold onto while sleeping or lying on the couch watching a movie. I actually stumbled on the idea shortly after Jackson died. I was in Houston with my sister and we happened upon the Build a Bear factory in the Galleria mall. I built a bear in memory of Jackson and I can’t tell you how good it felt to snuggle up with that teddy bear every night. My arms were aching for my baby to hold and while a teddy bear is obviously not nearly like my sweet baby, it was a whole lot better than nothing. I still cuddle with my Jackson bear on hard days.

I have given a few teddy bears out over the years to friends facing long hospital stays or extended trips away from home and the feedback has always been extreme surprise and thankfulness and amazement at the difference that one small thing made.

If your arms are aching for something to hold, I highly recommend a cuddly teddy bear.

Acts of Kindness

I make my hard days better by practicing random acts of kindness.

Doing things for other people helps me to stop focusing on myself and my own feelings and it gets me thinking about others and remembering that EVERYONE has a burden to bear.

I might buy coffee for the the car in line behind me or bring treats for my co-workers. Sometimes I give a server a crazy big tip. Very often I just find myself in a place where I am able to encourage someone to talk and I listen and give them my full attention.

A few weeks ago I was at the hospital visiting a friend and I rode on the elevator with a man who was clearly very tired and distressed. I asked him who he was there to see and he shared with me that his daughter was very sick. I asked him his daughter’s name and I told him I would pray for him and for April. He was very thankful and I could see his spirit was uplifted.

The more often I practice listening and caring, the more I am convinced it is one of the better acts of service everyone can give. People are bursting to tell their stories … They can barely contain themselves once given an opportunity to talk.

The beauty in helping others is that I am the one who is blessed and healed. I feel better and happier after doing something to brighten another person’s day in memory of my son.