Quite a few of my friends have lost loved ones recently — especially those who are my age. Tom used to say that there are the years of marriages and births, where everyone seems to be doing just that. Later on in life, come the years of divorce and death. I have found this to be mostly true, although Tom’s death came quite a bit earlier as these cycles go. Widowed at 41 is not all that common…or is it?
Over the years, I seem to have made an art form out of grieving and remembrance. Finding ways to keep Tom in our lives, yet opening our hearts to make room for someone else, was important for me to keep moving on and living fully. It’s what Tom would have wanted and, quite frankly, I can’t see it any other way. Many of my groupies (the women in my support group) feel differently and that works for them. Each of us, however, have found our own unique way to honor the anniversaries, milestones, and birthdays, and even holidays in ways that heal instead of ruin the day. Sadness still comes, but in a very different way that is not all encompassing and crippling. This is important to me, for I have seen the alternative and it’s not pretty.
If you have lost someone, I urge you to find ways to do this that bring a sense of love and support to both the deceased and those left behind. There are so many ways.
Here are just a few which the boys and I have done:
- Light a candle for them (in church or at home).
- Put notes in their stocking at Christmas.
- Enjoy their favorite cake and/or go to their favorite restaurant on their birthday.
- If they dabbled in the arts, pull out their art work (In our case, poems) and let their words come to life as you read them aloud.
- Treat yourself to a present on the anniversary of their passing. In the early years, this was more of my celebration of surviving the year. What ever it is for you, take my word, you deserve it.
- Buy yourself flowers on Valentine’s Day (because it’s a day of love, and self love is so important).
- Exchange memories, funny stories
- Play their favorite music (you still can be selective, playing only the “good” Bob Dylan)
- Make a quilt from their clothing (or have a dear friend do it if you can’t)
- Save one of their ties (or other items) for your son to wear on special occasions like graduation.
That’s just a few that come to mind. Please share your own if you’d care to.