There are so many dates to remember, our birthdays, anniversaries, first dates, payment due dates, you name it there is probably a date affiliated with it. As we go about our day to day lives, we glance at the calendar to get a quick confirmation of what day it is. We keep planners, electronic devices, etc., all in the hopes of keeping are schedules straight. Dates are generally something we keep tabs on, so as not to forget anything important or over schedule ourselves.
Yet there are times in our lives when we wish we could forget certain dates. When you lose someone you love, someone dear to you, dates take on entirely new meanings. All of sudden, dates are dreaded, birth dates, anniversaries, holidays, etc. These dates no longer hold the same magic, they now bring pain, sadness and a sense of helplessness. My daughter died 6 days before her 24th birthday, it was difficult enough to deal with her death, but having to now bury her around her birthday was to much. She was buried the day after her birthday because there was no way my husband and I could bury her on her birthday. It was difficult, but somehow we all got through those days.
Shortly after came Thanksgiving and Christmas, and with the death of a loved one, this became a very hard time of year to go through. The holidays can be very difficult, this is a time when our emotions seem to be the rawest, especially if the holiday held special meaning for our loved one or ourselves. But somehow through tears, we manage to survive. Some people choose not to celebrate the holidays, finding it to difficult to decorate, yet others put everything out. However you choose to cope, is like anything else, what is right for you.
We continue to move along, and suddenly the anniversary of the death comes into view. Darn that calendar, did the months have to pass so quickly. We suddenly realize that it is coming up on a year since we have had to say good bye. For me that first anniversary was so difficult and fortunately for us, we had a Mass offered in her memory, and many of our family and friends not only went to the church, but spent the day with us. We cried, we laughed and we truly celebrated my daughter's life. That is what worked and helped us. Each of us is different and we all mark certain dates in our own ways. Some people have a simple service, some quietly let the day pass, others visit the grave and put flowers, or go to a favorite place that they shared with their loved one. This is all good and yes, allow yourself to do what is good for you and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
It will be 4 years in September since my daughter died, and even though a few years have passed it is still very difficult. Not only do we remember her death, but shortly after I am reminded that she will not be blowing out the candles on her birthday cake. My dad died in 2000, and every year in February when the date of his death approaches I find myself getting very quiet and thinking about my dad.
Today I was very aware of dates because a year ago, my Aunt Pat died suddenly and totally unexpected, and what made it even more difficult was that only a month prior, we had buried my Uncle William. We had one death after another, each very different, but equally difficult to deal with.
Anniversaries, birthdays or any days that held special meaning for you or your loved one, is going to be very difficult. The key is to find a way to observe special days that can bring about reminders of what made them memorable and special to all of you. For the anniversary find ways to celebrate the life that works best for you. As I mentioned earlier, you may wish to have a memorial service, visit the grave, visit a special place that meant something important to your loved one or anything you feel comfortable doing. When it comes to birthdays or any holidays that involved getting your loved one a gift, consider making a donation to their favorite charity in their name. Again, it should be whatever feels right to you.
Whatever helps you get through those days, whatever makes you feel good and eases the pain, is what is right for you. Let your loved one's presence permeate those special days, let the love live on.
Blessings! and until we meet again.