I was 40 when my mother passed away and 13 years later, my father followed her in heaven. In between those years, I was trying to reflect on my experiences of the two separate counts of grief and loss. On both occasions, I could not help but ask: “Is that it? So, where have all those shared years gone?”
Then, I realized, those very precious moments — like my mom cooking and serving me my favorite dish or my dad listening to his collections of long playing albums with me from Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones to the Bee Gees, The Cascades, and Michael Jackson — stay with me until this very time. Even if my parents are gone, they remain in my mind and my heart as memories.
Then, next question I asked was “What would my children remember me with when I am gone? Will I simply become a thing of their past?” That would be sad.
Wanting to leave something or many things for my children to remember me by, I tried to think of little ways to allow us create memories together. You probably do most of these things already, but we all need a gentle reminder now and then. 1. Have solid family traditions This is something you do together without fail, something everyone in the family looks forward to, whether it's someone's milestone or a personal occasion. In our case, we make sure we are complete on New Year’s Eve. Each member of the family prepares his/her special dish to be part of the media noche food on the table to be shared at midnight. This makes the seemingly ordinary task become extraordinarily special because it is shared with the family.
2. Have family meals together Share breakfast, lunch and /or dinner even coffee breaks. This may seem like everyone is sitting and not doing anything, but this means so much to our children. In very casual conversations over family meals, you can talk about your children’s day-to-day activities, what makes them happy, sad, excited, etc. You can also plan family endeavors together, eat together, play a little bit and clean the dishes and table together.
3. Remember little moments that are important to your children Make sure you remember family days, mother-daughter night, father-son camping, awarding ceremonies, parent-teacher meetings and other activities in school. Know whether your children want you to actively participate or just be around and get informed.
4. Listen to your children Always make yourself available when your children signify their need to talk with you. Avoid making them wait as they may have already forgotten their concerns when you get back to them. Also, if your children realize that you are willing to listen to their “small stuff” unconditionally, they are more likely to share with you their “big stuff” as you go along.
5. Hug your children Hugging gives them comfort and makes them feel good. There is, however, a particular age when children seem to dislike being hugged. So, instead of giving them a hug, you can probably ask for one by saying, “I really need a hug, please hug me.”
Make your children feel and know you love them by giving them your time and undivided attention especially when they run to you. When it is time you give your children, all the more your gesture becomes truly priceless!
Dr. Liza Gonzales is an internationally certified life coach by the Certified Coaches Alliance (CCA) in Vancouver, BC, Canada and working towards being certified by the International Coach Federation (ICF). For questions and coaching inquiries and appointments, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org