It was a wonderful Sunday, regardless of the rain. We had our annual family reunion, it was a great time. It is a chance to catch up on what has been happening over the past year, coo over the new additions to the family, and just being together. With all its excitement and anticipation, it is also bittersweet, so many members of our family have passed away. In the twelve years that we have held our reunion, we have had to say good bye to too many people; my dad, a couple of uncles, my daughter and an aunt. It serves as a reminder of how precious our time is here on earth, and how important it is to cherish those people in our lives.
As you move forward in your grief, you may find yourself having to go out and be surrounded by people who remind you of what you shared with your loved one. At first it can be difficult, for me, I tended to avoid the familiar. I didn't want the sympathy and pity, I was much more comfortable in crowds, where no one new what I was going through, thus not needing to explain or guard my emotions. I also wanted the silence, just being alone listening to the whispers, maybe if I was still I could hear my daughter's voice, feel her presence. My husband on the other hand, wanted noise and bustle, the silence bothered him, it made him uncomfortable.
We all react differently, even within our own families, which can lead to some mixed feelings from others around you. These different reactions also illicit comments from people who believe that family members should be experiencing the same emotions and reactions. When Rachel passed away, I was unable to go back to my work routine, it was difficult for me to focus. My husband, on the other hand went right back to work. This difference within our home brought comments from some who felt that both of us should be moving on at the same pace. They felt that our grief was the same and that I should be acting as my husband was.
Grief is very unique to each individual, just as we all react differently when we first learned that someone we love has died, we to respond differently to grief. Some of us want to keep busy in hopes of not having to dwell on what has happened; some of us cease to function, day to day tasks seem impossible. As we move forward in our grief we may no longer take pleasure in doing some of the things we enjoy, like reading, watching TV, going out to dinner, etc. I love to read, but it was months before I was able to pick up a book again, it took a while before I could focus long enough to enjoy the book. There were days that I felt I was going crazy, and as I mentioned before, speaking to a counselor let me know that in grief, what I thought were odd behaviors, were actually quite normal. I also found it very helpful to talk to other people who had had a family member who died. It let me know that what I was going through was very real and normal, especially when I reached out to other parents who had lost a child.
Reach out to others who have suffered a similar loss as you, another widow or widower, those who have lost a sibling, parent or child. They are more than willing to share their experience and what helped them get through the darker days. You will also find that when you speak of your loved one, you begin to feel a sense of acceptance and healing. Let people around you know it is okay to talk about your loved one, share yours and their story, let people know what they meant to you. It's okay, really. Many bereavement sites remind you that "your loved one may have died, but the love never dies." (TAPS)
So reminisce, take out those photos, smile, laugh, cry, but most importantly remember the love and everything that you shared. For those of you who may have watched your loved one suffer days, weeks, months and even years, look beyond the recent memories and remember what they meant to you. Look at those pictures and remember the fishing trips, the summer picnics, the family vacations or the backyard barbecues. Remember life, rejoice in the life, and always remember the love, they are the gentle whisper, a light touch, and a beat of our heart. Our loved one is always a part of who we are.
Blessings! and until we meet again.