Remembering With Kindness [RAOK Day 2017]

Somedays, it’s nearly impossible to wrap my head around the experience of being a bereaved mother. ‘In real life’, I’ll talk to anyone I meet about my middle boy, and my experience being his mom. I truly believe that breaking the stigma surrounding pregnancy and infant loss is crucial to the healing process for other parents facing similar circumstances.  I’ve mentioned my second son once or twice on the blog before, but as I’ve said previously, he can be a delicate subject for some people in the ‘cyber world’. As a result I am often a bit hesitant to mention him online.

Photo credit: Debra Wallace Photography via Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.

Standard Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission from purchases you make through the links in this post (at no additional cost to you), which allows me to continue providing free content on the blog. 

In a few weeks, my always-baby would be turning three. It’s insane to think that there should be a walking, talking, giggling, crazy boy here with us. #thelittleone looked very much like #myrunawaybunny at birth, and it’s bittersweet to wonder how similar they would have continued to be, had #myrunawaybunny been given the chance to grow up. In the midst of all of the bittersweet emotions that February can bring for me, I’ve tried each year to make a conscious choice to choose happiness. Regardless of the heartbreak we experienced (and I’ll be honest, my son’s death shook me to my core, and nearly destroyed me), and knowing the outcome, I would never wish away the experience of being Avi’s mama. The joy of carrying him is not negated by the pain of living without him, and I want my life to reflect that.

For the past several years, mid-February has always been a bit of a haze for me. I muddle through half-aware of what’s happening, always dreading his birthday until it arrives. Ultimately, by the end of the day, it’s never been nearly as bad as I anticipated. This year, as it approaches, I’m feeling less dazed, and more present. This has consequently allowed me the clarity of mind to make a beautiful discovery- the date of my son’s birth and death is National Random Acts of Kindness Day! [I know, I know. We have days for anything and everything lately. But this one celebrates kindness, so seriously, just go with it people!] If nothing else, I would love for my son’s very brief life to bring some extra kindness to world- especially this year, when kindness seems to be in very short supply among some communities.

dalai lama kindness quote

I’m not sure if you’ve had a lot of personal experience with families that have lived through perinatal loss. One of the most important, and meaningful ways you can help that family carry on is through use of their child’s name, openly and freely. Using my son’s name, and speaking of him when he is on your mind affirms his short life, and reinforces it’s importance in the narrative of our lives. He lived briefly, and had a tremendous impact in that short time, and when you say his name in conversation or print, I know that you are someone who remembers with me. It’s this facet of healing that led me to create printable kindness cards for National Random Acts of Kindness Day 2017. I encourage you and your family to participate by spreading kindness, and sharing the cards when you do. They include a hashtag specifically for #myrunawaybunny, and we would love to see the ripples of kindness that spread from his inspiration, so we encourage you to post photos or status updates to the social media account of your choosing with his hashtag. [#ForAviWithLove].

random acts of kindness printable

[Interested in speaking with your children about the inspiration behind the printable I’ve created? Death, and in particular the death of a child or baby, can be difficult to talk about, even for adults. If you’re ready to broach this topic with your children, I’ve included some links at the end of the post to our favorite picture books to help facilitate those conversations.]

george elliston kindness quote

Need some kindness inspiration? Want to spread love but not sure where to start? I’ve got you covered… Here are 25 ideas, some super simple and some a bit more complicated that are perfect for a random act of kindness. Some are best suited for adults, some are geared towards children, and others are perfect for the entire family to be a part of. You’ve got over a week until the big day (February 17th!), so I know you have plenty of time to plan a little something to share kindness with the world around you.

  1. Bake cookies for a neighbor.
  2. Buy a coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts.
  3. Make a card for a friend.
  4. Smile at strangers.
  5. Hold the door open for people.
  6. Pick up litter in your neighborhood.
  7. Tape a few pouches of microwave popcorn (for movie night snacks) to your local Redbox machine.
  8. Make a donation to a charity of your choice. (Looking for a great cause? Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is near and dear to our hearts!)
  9. Visit lonely residents at a local nursing home.
  10. Donate blood at your local Red Cross.
  11. Send a card or letter to a deployed armed forces member.
  12. Surprise your kids with a special breakfast, lunch, or dinner. (Here’s a recent fun idea we had!)
  13. Let your spouse sleep in late.
  14. Volunteer locally for a soup kitchen, food cupboard, or Meals on Wheels.
  15. Spread the book love… pick out a few picture books at your bookstore, and leave them with the cashier, asking them to gift them to the next few families with children who check out. (This is one we’ve done before, and #thebigone loves to pick out the books we will leave).
  16. Drop off baked goods or other treats to a local fire or police department.
  17. Feed a stranger’s parking meter.
  18. Leave a scratch off lottery ticket on a coworker’s desk, or surprise them with tea or coffee one morning.
  19. Write a thank you note to your school custodian, nurse, or other staff member who may not be acknowledged as often as they should be.
  20. Donate old toys or too-small clothes to local shelters or charities.
  21. Chat with someone who looks lonely at school, scouts, or sports.
  22. Donate food or supplies to local animal shelters.
  23. Make care kits for homeless individuals in your area.
  24. Send a little surprise gift anonymously from someone’s public Amazon wishlist.
  25. Just smile. At everyone. It’s simple, it’s free, it’s easy. So do it!

aesop kindness quote
It doesn’t matter how big it is, or how insignificant it may seem- on February 17th, get out there and share the love! Please don’t forget your printable cards (or handwritten note) and to tag us on social media so we can see the love that our sweet Avi has inspired! 

Do you have other favorite random acts of kindness? I would love to hear about them in the comments- there’s never enough ways to share kindness with the world! 

Please consider joining us as we prepare for Random Acts of Kindness Day. I've included 25 ideas for ways to show kindness, as well as a free printable handout. Think about spreading some love in memory of my son, who would turned 3 on the holiday this year. #ForAviWithLove

Mom Life Mondays Link Up Mama-Mondays-Pin-Party friday mom life link up

We’d love to hear about your experience, so feel free to comment below or share a photo/post on social media using tag #ForAviWithLove. 

giving families creative

 Standard Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission from purchases you make through the links in this post (at no additional cost to you), which allows me to continue providing free content on the blog. 


  • Lauri L. Aquino

    Avi is forever in our hearts. He was a beautiful little boy and loved by his entire family.

    • Kate


  • Rojielyn

    i love the enumerated ways to show kindness to others. being kind is not hard as long as you have an open heart to anyone 🙂

    • Kate

      Thank you so much for checking it out!

  • athomefeelin

    Love the list you made of ways people can be kind. We need many more people in this world to remember what it’s like to be kind. Our world really needs this right now!

    • Kate

      You’re right, the world can use any kindness in can get right now! Thanks for checking out the list!

  • The hungry homemaker

    This is such a sweet post! So many amazing ideas and ways to show kindness. I’ll definitely be doing some of these with my little ones!

    • Kate

      Thank you… I’m so glad you’ll be spreading some kindness with your littles! Enjoy it!

  • Five for the Road

    This is beautiful and heart wrenching. I have tears in my eyes. I think you are doing it right by sharing your story and trying to find any glimmer of hope that gets you through it. National kindness is an amazing way to honor your son.

    • Kate

      Thank you so much Leah.

  • The Domestic Musician

    I love this post! I am always looking for ways to serve and to teach my kids to serve.

    • Kate

      Such an important lesson to teach and model. Thanks!

  • kristamae12

    I seriously love this! I need to do more random acts of kindness with my son. <3

    • Kate

      We need to be more mindful of it too, so the next few weeks will be the perfect opportunity to start. Thanks!

  • Vicki @ Babies to Bookworms

    THis is absolutely beautiful and brought me to tears. My husband lost a brother in his first year of life and I know how difficult his birthday is to their family. I am sending you so much love this month. I love the idea of purchasing books at the bookstore for other families. My daughter and I will absolutely take part in spreading love for Avi. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Kate

      Thank you so much Vicki.

  • Meredith from Mommy in Leggings

    These are amazing ideas! I want to make sure I spread the love wherever I go, and make sure my daughter knows what it means to always generate kindness. Thank you for this!!

    • Kate

      Thanks Meredith… And kindness is such an important lesson to model for our kids so I’m glad you’re proactive about it.

    • Kate

      Thanks so much Jasmine!

  • thelifestylelady

    You inspiring and brave lady, I am blown away by the humility and candor you show in this post, the fact that your grief motivated you to kindness is awe-inspiring I will use some of these. Thanks for sharing,

    • Kate

      Thank you very much, and I appreciate you taking the time to read the post!

  • Celebrating Sweets

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. We all need to be reminded to be kind. Your story is heartbreaking and touching. Thank you for sharing! Sending hugs.

    • Kate

      Thank you so much!

  • Emily

    Such a sweet post, and a list full of great ideas! I try to catch my students doing random acts of kindness so I can quietly compliment them on it. Sending a virtual hug your way during this tough time of year.

    • Kate

      Thank you Emily. I love the idea of quiet compliments… My son is always proud to relay compliments he’s received from his teacher during the day. I know it will help your students feel extra special!

  • Kerry Hassen

    Avi must be so proud (along with the rest of the men in your life). What a wonderful tribute from a beautiful woman and mother. Thank you for sharing so honestly Kate

    • Kate

      Love you, Kerry! <3 And thank you!

  • Brittany Ferrell

    I understand your loss completely. I lost my daughter on Christmas Day 2012. There is not a day that goes by that my heart does not ache for her. I absolutely love the idea of turning grief into kindness. This is a wonderful way to heal. I try to live my life in a way that I hope my little angel is proud of and this is the perfect way to do it. I send you all my love!

    • Kate

      I am so sorry for your loss Brittany… We’ll think of your daughter while we are doing one of our random acts of kindness next week. <3 Sending you warmth!

      • Brittany Ferrell

        I love your mission. It is such a great way to honor our babies.

        • Kate

          Thank you so much Brittany. It’s so important to find a way to work through your grief in a positive way. <3

  • onepeainthepod

    What a great way to remember your son! I’m sure he is so proud of you all! Can’t wait to see the love for him with RAOK!

    • Kate

      Thanks so much, Kate!

  • thejohnsonplusdog

    This is such a great idea Kate! I love when you share about your precious Avi! 🙂 I can’t wait for you to see all of the sprinkles of kindness come in on this day.

    • Kate

      Thank you so much! He’s a pretty special topic… I try not to overdo it, but when meaningful dates approach, he’s on my mind more than usual. <3

  • Tiffany | shortsweetmom

    I am so sorry for the loss of your little one. It is very inspiring and beautiful that you are honoring his memory by encouraging people to do acts of kindness!

    • Kate

      Thank you so much, Tiffany. I appreciate your kind words!

  • Stephanie Lowry

    Okay, just had to take a deep breath and wipe my eyes. You are an incredible woman, and my heart truly goes out to you. I love how you are cherishing and honoring him in such a sweet way.

    • Kate

      Thank you, Stephanie. <3 I appreciate your support.

  • Clare

    Hi Kate thanks for opening up on this. I had a fullterm baby girl stillborn for my first pregnancy. She would have been 14 now. It is so painful to lose a child and something that needs to be discussed more. Some people don’t know how to approach the topic at all. Others find it hard to believe you had a preganancy and then lost the baby. I remember rumours that we had adopted our child or I had been a surrogate! Xx

    • Kate

      I am so sorry to hear of your loss Clare… I believe it’s so important to be open and honest about the experience. So many families live with this pain, but feel so isolated and alone in the experience. I’m sorry for the painful reactions you received at the time… I’m sure it complicated your healing. All the best to you. <3

  • KT Brison

    Thank you for sharing Avi’s photos. He is beautiful. To add to your list, I sometimes pay for the order of the person behind me in the drive-thru. Just to make them smile.

    • Kate

      That’s such a fun and easy random act of kindness- thanks so much for sharing KT!

  • Kathy

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience and the memory of your little Avi. I love the idea of Random Acts of Kindness. There are so many picture books that go along with this idea, a great way to reinforce it.

    • Kate

      Thanks so much, Kathy. We’ve definitely been looking at some of our books about kindness, like “Clifford’s Good Deeds”.

  • Brittany

    I love this post so much!!!! Im stealing some ideas for the girls to do

    • Kate

      Hope you and the girls have fun spreading some joy!

  • Stuff Dutch People Like

    “The joy of carrying him is not negated by the pain of living without him, and I want my life to reflect that.” – what beautiful writing . Your blog post does just that. <3

    • Kate

      Thank you so much. <3

  • Eryn Lynum

    I just love this. Thank you. We lost a baby to miscarriage almost one year ago (March 30th). Afterwards, I wrote a blog post around the truth that those babies, however long or short we held them in our wombs or in our arms, matter. Their story matters. And I was struck by how you explained that one of your big pieces to healing, and helping others heal, is to speak your child’s name. It is so true. Just acknowledging that they were here, and that they matter. Your story is being used to help and heal others. We have friends who lost a nephew in a tragic accident, and every year they celebrate his life with ” Be Intentional Day”. Last year we joined in by leaving coffee gift cards in an envelope at the trailhead of one of our favorite hiking spots. These ideas are such beautiful ways to bless others while celebrating a beautiful life. Praying for your family tonight.

    • Kate

      Eryn, I am so sorry to hear of your loss last year. After my son died, my next pregnancy ended in a miscarriage around 7 weeks, and that was also an extremely difficult loss for myself and my family. Sometimes we just need people to say “I see you are hurting and there’s a good reason that it hurts, because what you lost mattered,” rather than the silence that can often follow from people who are uncomfortable with the loss, and uncertain what the ‘right’ reaction should be. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. <3

  • afunnythinghappenedtodayadmin

    What a beautiful way to remember and honor your lost son. So sorry for your loss, but this is so inspirational.

    • Kate

      Thank you so much, for both your condolences and your support.

  • Jalisa Marie

    I know its no the same but I had a miscarriage my second trimester and it really messed me up since I suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I wasn’t aware at the time I was able to conceive on my own. Until I conceived my son 6 weeks later. My heart breaks for you. But, for you to be able to climb through through it all shows how strong you are.

    • Kate

      I am so sorry to hear about your loss Jalisa. I had an early miscarriage between my son who passed away and my youngest, so I can imagine how you felt to an extent, but I’m sure it was complicated by your emotions from your other health issues. Thanks so much for your support.

      • Jalisa Marie

        Thank you for your kind words.

  • projectlifewellness

    I am so sorry for your loss. Your post truly brought tears to my eyes. No parent should ever have to go through what you went through and It breaks my heart so much when things like this happen however I am glad that you are coping better with it through time and i love that you are spreading the message of kindness to others. Hopefully we can all learn something from this. Blessings to you<3

    • Kate

      Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate your condolences.

  • Gina | Sweet Maple Lane

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and these wonderful ideas for spreading kindness. I always tell my children that the most important thing is to be kind. Our job here on earth is to take care of eachother. What a wonderful tribute to your beloved son, Avi. My prayers are with you and your family.

    • Kate

      Thank you so much for your kind words and support Gina.

  • Ria

    I would never fully understand the feeling of losing a child but I do know how it feels to lose someone you loved and cared about because I lost my brother years ago. And even after several years have passed already, the pain remains only a little bit more tolerable. So my heart goes out to you and your family. You are brave and strong! Thank you for sharing this post.

    And thank you also for all these wonderful ideas for showing random act of kindness. I will be sure to print a copy to share with my family.

    • Kate

      Thanks so much for your kind words Ria. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother- having lost my sister nearly 9 years ago, I know that the death of a sibling is terrible to endure. I will be keeping you and your family in my thoughts.

  • tineke - workingmommyabroad

    Love the activities of kindness, thanks for sharing your story and for linking up! Sharing 🙂

    • Kate

      Thanks so much!

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