by Sandy Fox
My deepest fear: that my precious daughter will be forgotten over time. Surely, that is understandable coming from a mother’s point of view. As time passes, others begin to continue with their lives, and I want to shout, “But what about my child? She lived too. She would not want to be forgotten”. And I would not want her to be forgotten, ever.
How can I prevent that, and what have I done so far to keep her memory alive now and forever? I know I think of her every day and all the wonderful things she did for everyone, always helping others in whatever their situation. She was such a good child through all 27 years of her life, which ended in a split second on a crowded road in Los Angeles. And she was a wonderful friend to everyone, always there in good times and in bad times, comforting others, laughing with them and crying with them. I know her best friend will never forget, her husband won’t forget, I won’t forget, nor will some relatives who thankfully remember and talk about her. I encourage that, as it is the only way to keep her memory alive for them.
The one thing I have done from the very beginning is to establish memorials, such as scholarships in her old school, build buildings in her honor which house one of her loves, the theater, and put up memorial plaques and bricks in every institution she was involved with during her life. Most recently, I was able to buy a memorial brick at the college she attended to help fund the Memorial Union refurbishment. It says, “In Loving Memory of Beloved Daughter, (her name) and the year she graduated (BA 1988).”
I have written two books about surviving grief, always mentioning her name and her situations where they apply to what I am writing. I write articles for many online grief newsletters and contribute articles to other books such as the Open To Hope book. I speak at national conferences of bereaved parents, but more importantly, I try to help others during their grief journey. I have been there. I know exactly what they are feeling. And I try to tell them that it will get better. They will survive. They will find a new normal. It may not be what they had hoped for, but, indeed, it can be fulfilling in a new way.
The most fulfilling thing I have accomplished is to establish an endowment fund in her name to help others fulfill the dreams she was unable to do. Each year three students receive funds to help them through college. The very first student who received funds has recently contacted me, we went to lunch, caught up with each other’s lives, and she promises to keep in touch. Such a lovely woman she turned out to be. I am as proud of her as I would be of my own daughter. I realize it is a project that will always carry her name into the future she was deprived of, but will bring hope to many others.
A few years ago, I started a bereavement group for parents who have lost their only child, as I have. We now have 15 members, who are comfortable talking about their child, telling us stories about them and their antics. We laugh, we cry, we are very close because we have a common bond that most other bereaved parents don’t understand. We no longer have any child to continue our legacy and most of us do not have grandchildren to help ease that loss. That bond allows us to be at ease with each other and there is nothing that feels as good as that.
I have done everything I can think of to keep my daughter’s memory in front of others and will continue to do so as I think of additional ways to memorialize her. Although I have lost the most important person in my life, I will never forget her. She will always hold a place in my mind and in my heart and I will not let others forget her either for as long as I live.