Celebrating Nathan’s 21st birthday

A lady is kneeling by a gravestone, there are balloons tied to it of a 2 and a 1 for his 21st birthday. The sun is shining.

Birthday celebrations come in all shapes and sizes.

For Very Special Kids bereaved mum, Eli, it was important that her family could celebrate and honour the birthday of her late son Nathan, who would have turned 21 this year.

Nathan had a rare form of bone cancer, called Osteosarcoma, and sadly died in 2018. Speaking on his milestone birthday, Eli shares:

“It was Nathan’s 21st birthday on the 5th of July and I didn’t know how we would celebrate it.

I went to and fro on whether to celebrate it, since it’s meant to be such a joyous occasion, but he is no longer with us. How do we make it special for Nathan, as though he was here? I know it would have been his wishes, so I put my emotions aside and decided it was the right thing to do.

An image of the sun shining on a gravestone, with balloons attached of a 2 and a 1 for his 21st birthdayMy daughter (Steph) asked whether it was a good idea to have it on his actual birthday and I had to think about it and decided it was going to be on that day. Steph and I went to the cemetery and put his 21st balloons at his gravesite. We had such a laugh since it was so windy, we couldn’t get a good shot but, Nathan must have helped since Steph got the best pic as if there was no wind at all!

We then went home and decorated the house with another 21st balloon, green decorations (his favourite colour!), plus his favorite Krispy Kreme donut cake. The family came over and we played Nathan’s music and looked at photos and videos on the TV. It turned out to be a happy occasion and I’m so glad I did it.

When you feel you are not sure what you should do, go with your heart, and know that you are making the right decision, enjoy knowing that your child would be very proud of you for doing something that is completely out of your comfort zone…you won’t be disappointed.”

A pile of donuts on a plate with a 21st sign and birthday candlesVery Special Kids have supported Nathan’s family since 2017. We provide clinical, emotional and practical support for families through life, death and bereavement – for as long as they need.  

Grief and loss is an ongoing and complex experience, our practitioners respond to the needs of everyone in the family, including siblings and wider support network to help them navigate the ongoing journey of grief with safety and support.

At Very Special Kids, we are working to make the world a better, more supportive and knowledgeable place for families who are suffering through the death of a child or young person.