A month ago, my mom unexpectedly passed away. She was a vibrant 62-year-old grandma to my 4-year-old son who regularly exercised and ate healthy.
Sure, she had some health scares—breast cancer and two previous brain aneurysms that had been operated on successfully—but we never expected her to never come home after her second surgery on a brain aneurysm.
It has been devastating, to say the least, and as I comb through pictures and videos, I have gathered some tips for other parents of young kids to do right now in case the unexpected happens, and you’re left scrambling to never allow the memory of your precious parents to be gone from your children’s lives.
There are things that I am so glad that we did that will help my son remember his grandma. And, sadly, there are things I wish we had done. Things we are making sure we do right away with the three remaining grandparents.
Take More Video
I have always been the one at gatherings, parties, and holidays to take out my phone and record. My parents did this a lot when my brother and I were younger, and we loved watching home movies as we got older.
Nowadays, when videos are mostly one or two-minute, TikTok-style shots, you’ll realize that you really crave those long videos when your dad would take out the camera and just press record and then sit back and allow kids to fight and argue with one another.
I’m so glad I did this. I love pulling these videos up and allowing my son to hear and see Grandma. What wonderful memories. In my grief, I’m finding that when a loved one dies, having these videos is really comforting, and I just want more and more of them to show my son. My only regret is not doing it more.
Get a Recorded Children’s Book
When my son was born, my mom had the wherewithal to record herself reading one of those children’s books you can usually purchase from Hallmark. It’s a sweet story of how much Grandma loves him.
The book wasn’t working for a while, and after she died, I was desperate to get it to work. My husband did some slight surgery on the book, and it’s working again. He also recorded audio of her narration, and we now have it saved and backed up.
My son and I will listen to this book before bed and recount how much Grandma loved him. It’s such a good way to help kids remember their grandparents. For this past Grandparent’s Day, we went out right away to buy three more for the other grandparents to read.
Schedule a Professional Photo Shoot
We have many everyday pictures of my son with his grandparents, but we don’t have any professional photos with them. We have professional photos of a family of three.
However, I would love to have had these pictures of my son and my mom or my parents with our family. Not only would the photo shoot be a special memory but framing the pictures and hanging them around the house would help kids remember their grandparents.
My husband did, though, take some of our favorite pictures of our son and my mom and hang them up, which was very special.
Write Letters to Open Later
Amazon sells a booklet of blank letters for family members to write letters to relatives for them to open later or now.
I would have loved for my son to be able to open personalized letters from his grandma at different times in his life so he could still experience and hear her words throughout his life. We will definitely be getting the rest of the grandparents this gift.
Ask Them to Share Their Stories
In a similar fashion, I wish I’d had the foresight to have her fill out a detailed interview book about her life story so we could share it later with our son.
There are even books where grandkids can ask their grandparents questions. You can video their answers or write down their responses in what is sure to be a memorable experience for now and later in your kids’ lives.
Record Messages on Video
I would love to have been able to show my son a personalized video message of her talking directly to him. Grandparents can record a short message expressing their love to their grandkids and what they are proud of and their hopes and dreams for their future.
The bottom line is there are things parents can start doing now to help kids remember their grandparents. However, the best thing we did with my mom was make priceless memories that can be talked about forever in her honor. We didn’t take time with her for granted and the only thing we wish is that we could have more of it.