Birthdays, death days, holidays, and anniversaries–they can be hard to handle when our loved ones have passed on. Most of us don’t know what to expect on these days when they start creeping up. Will it be a day of remembering our loved one? Will it be a day of remembering the pain of their loss? Can any holiday ever feel the same again?
We’ve learned a few things that have helped us, and we hope they may be helpful to you.
The first year’s birth/death/anniversary/holidays are usually the most difficult.
Because we don’t know what to expect, they can seem overwhelming as they approach for the first time. We may want to feel a certain way but discover we feel completely different when the day’s finally arrived. We may place heavy expectations for that day and find our expectations aren’t met. We might be feeling like, “Who am I now that my loved one is gone, and how do I handle this anniversary?” Or, we may expect to feel deep sorrow and be surprised to feel “fine,” which can sometimes lead to unwanted feelings of guilt. Others may feel the opposite-wanting to completely check out, to not even celebrate at all. Honor their memory, & honor yourself for carrying on.
Time helps, but there’s no set time limit for grief.
Many people are told that the grieving process should be for “x” amount of months or weeks, but that’s not how grief works. There is no time limit, and the duration of grief really depends on many other factors–like how the person died and what your relationship was like before they died.
Remembering is good.
Remember the good times. Remember what you loved most about them. Remember their strengths. Often, on the birth or death day of our loved ones we have a family gathering and remember them by sharing memories. It’s good to remember.
Let yourself feel about and experience birthdays, death days, holidays, or anniversaries however you feel is best.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to these special days. Sometimes, it’s healthier to cry. Sometimes, its healthier to laugh and celebrate and sometimes it’s healthier to look ahead and plan the day. Do what works for you and for the time of your progression through grief.
Honor your loved one and Honor yourself for carrying on.
As the years progress, it becomes less about what we have lost and more about who they were, what they have taught us, and what we can leave behind in honor of them. We can carry on. We can learn from their lives and grow. Then, we can share that growth with others.
That’s one of the best ways we can honor our loved ones who have passed on, to learn from them and then to share what we have learned; to let their legacy be one of peace, of hope, of peace, of compassion, and great love.