How 16 messages for a child as she grows can help you live a better life

While we can complete journals for our children’s journey to date, what can we leave our children for their future should we suddenly depart? Helen Stephens ponders…

For those who watch the BBC series “Call the Midwife” I couldn’t help to be moved by the last episode of the latest series, which saw Sister Evangelina pass away peacefully. However, it wasn’t just this scene that resonated with me, it was also the voice of Vanessa Redgrave who said “None of us know how long the things we love will last.”

The first three months of 2016 have passed in the blink of an eye and my 50th Birthday is visible far to clearly on the horizon. Whilst I am fit and healthy, I recognize that my future years are likely to be less than that the years I’ve had.

I’ve enjoyed using Messages for You While You Grow a book of 16 inbound envelopes with beautiful notepaper. While I am hopeful that she won’t have to read them without me I have started to write messages to my future daughter so that she can have the answers to the questions she might like to ask me:

• how to get through puberty
• surviving your 18th birthday without a hangover
• top tips on making decision
• getting through exams
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All these messages are for key milestones on her life’s journey. Delving into old boxes and albums, it’s been fun adding the odd photo or memento to emphasise a point. I’ve added an old pound note to the ‘how to manage your finances’ envelope! Of course you don’t have to be a parent to do this, other family members such as grandparents can do this too, providing a legacy of knowledge and insight.

I’ve had a laugh writing most of them reflecting on my own journey through these moments, but I’ve also shed a tear or two at the possibility of not being here for her.

According to Winston’s Wish, the leading childhood bereavement charity, approximately two children under 16 are bereaved of a parent every hour of every day in the UK. That’s over 24,000 children each year.

Journals and keepsakes play a significant part in defining where we come from and how we got to where we are. As our children grow we make decisions about when and how to guide and give advice to our children. I plan to be around to support my daughter through many of her life’s moments and read these messages with her. However if I’m not, I hope she has a little bit of me by her side as she continues on her journey.

Many children worry that they will forget the person who has died. Most miss their parent’s guidance at significant points in their life. If you have a child that has experienced loss then help can be sought at www.winstonswish.org.uk. If you would like to write to a child for their future check out Messages For You - While You Grow and future proof your messages advice.

Could you contribute to the development of initiatives to support those affected by bereavement by taking part in some of Winston's Wish's groundbreaking research