Days of remembrance are important, and we all gravitate towards ones that signify something that hits closest to home. Working at a retail store, being a buyer for the stationery section of the store, I get the opportunity to see lots of greeting card lines. I have the responsibility to choose which ones will hit closest to home for our customer base. In this Post-modern society that can be pretty broad turf. One niche that has been largely overlooked is remembrance of the loss of a child in the military - the event that designates a person as a Gold Star Mother, Father, Wife or Spouse. It's a designation no one wants to earn, and one that deserves the respect of all those around them. As a parent, the greatest fear I've had to conquer is that of something tragic happening to my child. Several years back I watched a woman whom I admire very much walk through one of her daughters being overtaken by a brain tumor. She shared her thoughts and emotions through the process and it was heart wrenching. The tragedy of something claiming the life of her precious daughter had an intensity I don't think I could have imagined as deeply if I weren't a parent myself. It's the same sense of tragedy that places Gold Star Mother's Day in such a special place in my heart. The sense of helplessness that a life was taken, so young, so full of promise and good stops me in my tracks. And it should. This summer while at the Blue Star Mothers of America national convention several Gold Star Mothers shared in one of our sessions about their children, how they themselves individually dealt with the grief, and shared suggestions on how to be supportive of Gold Star Mothers. Here's what I took away from that session: - Each Gold Star Mother is an individual who deals with grief in their own way. Take the time to understand how they respond. Look for clues in manner, speech, non-verbals and respond appropriately and with sensitivity. Sometimes these clues will change day to day, or even within the timespan of a day. Specific things will trigger memories for them. - Don't be paranoid to talk with them, and don't be afraid to ask them where they are at emotionally. Seize the moment and listen if they are able/wanting to talk. Choose to be silent with small gestures of kindness if that is all they can manage at that moment. Allow them the freedom to express their grief in a safe environment. - Know that the life of their child lives on in their mind. Explore if they are responsive, and dialogue about what their hopes and dreams for their child were, what they imagine they would have accomplished given more days. Or, keep to the realm of remembering things they did accomplish. No Gold Star Mother is willing to accept that the memory of their child will be forgotten. A Gold Star Mother who is a member of our Oregon chapter of Blue Star Mothers once told me through tears that she wanted more than anything for the memory of her son to live on. "I can't bear the thought of Jeffrey being forgotten". The last Sunday of September has been respectfully designated by our country as national Gold Star Mothers Day. Unfortunately, many Americans have no knowledge of this. If you know someone who lost their child while serving in the military - either in combat or otherwise, I encourage you to reach out to them this Sunday in some tangible way. If they aren't close enough in proximity to get together, send them a card. 2 My Hero has several cards designed specifically for these special people. If a card or letter won't make it in the mail by Sunday, don't let that deter you from remembering them - be ok with it arriving late. Like my mother still says, "better late than never". If you know them well enough, mark your calendar with the date their child passed away, and send them a remembrance card on that day. You will make their heart sing to know that you took the time to remember their child's passing. *Wordpress is having some issues currently, so I apologize there are not pictures or links in this blog. Hopefully you can navigate your way to our website to find our selection of Gold Star Mother's Day cards. Thank you for your patience!