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How do you Celebrate Memorial Day Abroad?

Learning to Understand Grief is Vital for Your Global Children

I currently work with families in the international setting but this can be a huge event in most families – anniversaries of the death of a love one.

Expat Children Often Don't Get to Say Goodbyes to Love Ones
Expat Children Often Don’t Get to Say Goodbyes to Love Ones


Being American, I have often been told that our western society is a death-denying culture, but that has not been my experience.

Families often have a better understanding of ‘life’ when they remember their loved ones and share the laughter and sadness these people brought into their lives and the lives of their children. Being a parent, is it wonderful to have an opportunity to incorporate these memories and teachings into our own children’s  lives.  Your parents, wise aunts and uncles, loving sisters and brothers are key for building connections in your own families. It is important to take time to remember them and acknowledge the richness they added to your life.

The grief process is highly personal and so is how a family wants to ‘remember’ members who are no longer around. Having a global celebration allows the family the ability to participate on any level that is in their own comfort zone so they can determine what they need.

For many people having a structured event allows them the ability to connect to others easier through this process. Resilience is often used as an accurate description of the human grief experience (Bonanno).

Annual events create rituals and this builds resilience.

Some families these rituals are a very important part of their life. In the USA, Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May. It was formerly known as Decoration Day and commemorates all men and women, who have died in military service for the United States. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials on Memorial Day for all family members who have died. 

Raising our own children abroad, we are seldom home in the USA for memorial day. We have looked at old photos and family videos in our own home on memorial day. We have read old letters from loved ones. My favorite way to honor these people are to cook our loved ones favorite dishes,  or use one of their special recipes to prepare our memory meal.

death and dying

When we lived in Thailand we started to understand the Buddhist insight into death and dying . In their temples and on signs you can see “We are alive, therefore we will die.”

I love when grievers help other grievers. Expats are often thrown together with people they have very little in common with but when you tell a story about your loved one to a stranger, it is powerful. They can easily share a story about their love ones and their loss.

As a parent, you cannot help your child learn to be resilient unless you let them take responsibility of their own growth process. Learning to understand grief is vital for your children.


Related Blogs – death and taxes and death of a student

photo – http://icampus21.com/uwindsor/wordpress/group8presentation/2014/01/28/hello-world/ 

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