STORIES OF MAKING LIFE BETTER FOR KIDS WITH CANCER
Written by Jodie Kitchens, ASK Board President (pictured above)
Creating a beautiful, meaningful memorial event for our families
Acknowledging a parent of a child who has passed is probably the most difficult part of being a Board member with ASK. What do you do? What do you say?
Every year, my family and I participate in a Day of Remembrance and immersing ourselves in just that situation. A day dedicated to our ASK families that have experienced the heartbreak of letting their children go as angels among us.
The first time I attended this celebration of our children, I thought it would be a difficult day. I had recently lost my mother to cancer and thought that it might be a fitting way to honor her as I served these families.
It was that and so much more.
Through this celebration, ASK provides space for families to tell stories about their children, to laugh together, to create memories through crafts, and, yes, to grieve. It’s a chance for these families to join with others that have gone through similar pain and to reunite with the staff that was part of their daily routine.
The support they provide one another and the learning they share is critical to knowing they, as parents, are not alone on this journey.
I look forward to seeing the same families each year and to know these remarkable kids and the stories they embodied. Each family has a unique journey and shares their burden in a different way.
Nurse Megan gave a wonderful discussion about what she has learned from all her cancer patients. Through tears at times, she discussed the patience and joy she has received and the honor she feels to be able to participate in these interactions. Her guidance about how to help families in this deep grief included:
The name of each ASK child who has passed was read, giving them a place still here on the earth, and a candle was lit by each family as a real memory of their spirit.
While our big events such as the walk and the Holiday Party are important to keep a normal cadence to our days, I’m committed to this small, intimate event remembering the children and families, and along with these families, I remember my own mother, who is pictured below.