Anniversaries that mark the day our loved one’s passed away can be tough days, but with a little bit of forethought, it can also be a sweet-tender day.
Your body seems to remember even before your mind.
Athletes call this muscle memory—
“Muscle memory can best be described as a type of movement with which the muscles become familiar over time. For instance, newborns don’t have muscle memory for activities like crawling, scooting or walking. The only way for the muscles to become accustomed to these activities is for the baby to learn how to do these things and then practice them with a great deal of trial and error..”
Ways to Celebrate Your Loved Ones Passing:
- Have a celebration gathering. Funerals are for the most part sad. Illness, accidents–it’s hard to remember all the sweet times when you’re hurting. Six months or a year later gather your family and friends and tell all those great-funny stories. It’s okay to laugh, cry, and remember. Do something unique–serve their favorite foods, host a football party, go ice skating or fishing …something they loved.
- Create a memory box. Craft stores sell wood boxes with glass lids. Collect Dad’s baseball cap, ticket stubs, signed baseball, a photograph of the two of you at the game and create a memory you’ll always cherish.
- Write them a letter. Tell your loved one where you are, that it’s still hard but you’re doing a bit better–or you hope to soon. Write them letters on your birthday, their birthday, their passing day–any time you want and need to talk to them–and keep these letters together. You’ll feel as if in some way they’re still with you.
- Have a place to go and talk to them. Many families choose cremation, which is a valid option–and even those who bury their loved ones in a cemetary have the issue of trying to get back to the place to visit them. Why not donate a bench to a local park and engrave a plaque with your loved one’s name on it? That way not only will you have a place to go to talk with your loved one–other people can enjoy it as well.
Know that grief takes time. Lots of time–and it’s different for every person.
I think there’s a grief memory as well.
Our bodies store everything that’s ever happened to us, and something as profound as grief cycles though our minds, bodies and spirits. We find ourselves a year later experiencing many of the same overwhelming emotions–as if no time has passed at all. Unless we teach our spirits–literally replace the painful memories with new memories, we can circle this mountain again and again.
A dear friend of mine has a very difficult few weeks leading up to the anniversary of her father’s passing. He committed suicide and also killed his wife–her step-mother. It was needless to say, a horrendous shock and tragedy. We were talking this morning and she was weepy, feeling lost–and I reminded her that this weekend was the anniversary of my mother’s passing. Then it hit her–her father’s passing date will be in a few days. Her body remembered long before she looked at a calendar.
But knowing that this happens helps.
Each year, each cycle, we can choose a path of healing–in some small way we can begin to remember with sweetness and peace instead of turmoil and panic.
This year, I spent the day I remember my mother’s passing quite differently than before.
I danced this day.
We celebrated two family weddings this past weekend–one on Friday, another on Saturday (different sides of the family). I spent all weekend at rehearsal dinners, on the beach, toasting with champagne, hugs, hugs, and more hugs. Both sides of the family are generous, sweet, affectionate people, and both sides had lost a dear loved one this year so they knew how precious a day of celebration was.
It was also the right time for me. Enough time has passed that this was the right thing to do. There is a time to mourn, to ache, but there is a time to rebuild our lives.
It’s important to celebrate every chance we get.
Life is hard enough. Death comes and taps each of us on the shoulder.
Life comes in packages–life-death, babies–old age. We cannot open our arms to one and reject the other. We must somehow, learn to embrace both.
If this is the first or second year after your loved one’s passing, it is most likely a very difficult day. Be easy on yourself. Do whatever you need to do, whatever way you can get by. For some, this is a day to visit a graveside–for others, it’s a day to go parasailing–to do something so big and over the top to remind themselves they are alive and outrunning death’s grip. Some can barely get out of bed.
Do what feels right and natural, even if that means feeling sad and overwhelmed with grief–right now. Know that it won’t always hurt like it does now. It will get better in time.
I was on a boat with a friend once. We were facing the wind, our hair going wild. We were smiling and laughing and watching flocks of birds lift out of the marsh and take off in flight, the spray of water surprising us–and my friend said,
“If sorrows and tragedies can literally make us age, then can’t good times, celebrations make us younger?
Yes, it can.
Scientists and physicians including Dr. Michael Roizen, author of Real Age has proven this.
You can be younger than your chronological age by how you take care of yourself physically, and by your mental outlook on life.
I missed my mom this year.
Thinking about the day she left this world will no doubt always hurt–but as I danced with my husband, my nieces and nephews, my mother-in-law, babies and toddlers–as I hugged and kissed and cried and toasted–I knew that this was the very, very best way I could honor my mother’s life–and her passing.
It was time to place a new memory on top of the old one. It doesn’t diminish it.
Perhaps this is why people started placing flowers on graves.
Life and rebirth trumps death every time.
Family Advisor at www.Caring.com