It's More Than A Park Bench.

It's More Than A Park Bench.

by Andrea Tam

There are many ways to process the loss of a loved one.

"This is beautiful. Michael loved this park. We spent a lot of time around here, so this is a good place for the bench. I love the landscaping, too. Thank you for helping us with this. It means a lot to us." said Mary

"Mary, it was my pleasure. Please give my regards to George and the family," said Daniel

Mary's son Michael passed away when he was 28 years old. Michael had a traumatic birth injury. His doctors never expected him to live, but Michael surprised everyone. His family used to call him 'Miracle Mike.' At age 15, Mary could no longer care for him, so he moved into a home for people with developmental disabilities. Michael's family visited him every Sunday.

When Michael lived at home, Mary took him to the park every morning to walk along the trails. She would put Michael in his stroller, which they called the 'Cruiser' and then take off for the park. Michael always asked to go by the dog park, so that was the first place they went. Sometimes they spent their entire time looking at the various dogs versus walking through the park. When Michael got excited about a dog, he would rock back and forth in his Cruiser, tap his face, and shout with glee. 

Mary cherished those memories.

During that first year following Michael's death, on Friday mornings, Mary made herself a vanilla latte, walked to the park, and sat on the bench her family donated to the park in Michael's memory. It was a mourning ritual she looked forward to every week. 

On those days, she found herself talking aloud to Michael. She told him about what was happening in her life, Michael's father's life, and his siblings. She told him about her fears and concerns. Sometimes her voice cracked, and her eyes filled with tears when she told him how much she missed him. She noticed that she always felt lighter after talking to Michael.

Sometime during the second year after Michael died, Mary started her Friday mornings by making a gratitude list while sitting on Michael's bench while drinking her latte. She loved sitting in the park while she made her list. It was a quiet and beautiful place where Mary could be with her thoughts. Sometimes she read her gratitude list aloud to Michael. Or, let her mind wander. And sometimes, she would meditate. 

Occasionally, a neighbor walked by, and they would chat for a bit. A lot of her neighbors told her that they appreciated the bench and loved where it was in the park. Mary felt it was a sacred space for Michael and her, but they had given it to the park for public use.

During year three, Mary stopped going to the park every Friday morning. She had landed her dream job and was no longer available on Fridays. Her life had shifted, and it felt a little better. Her marriage was good, the children were healthy, and she started feeling hopeful again.

Over the years, when grief showed up, Mary would feel the need to talk, vent, cry, or unpack and process how she felt about Michael. She would make her vanilla latte, walk to the park, and sit on the bench. Every visit was different, but the one constant was the peace she felt sitting on the bench and connecting with Michael.

There are many ways to process loss, like Mary processing the loss of her son, Michael, by creating a sacred space for her to grieve, honor and commune with him. If you or someone you know is processing loss, consider a gift box filled with positive rituals, care, and love. Sometimes, the simple act of giving one of our gift boxes helps someone find a way of processing loss.

Thank you for reading,

Andrea Tam
Founder @ Robiins
Processing loss. One gift box at a time.™




Andrea Tam
Andrea Tam

Author




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