Anniversaries, birthdays and holidays can be a real challenge for grievers, especially when the days remind us of who is missing. In the beginning, the pain of our loss often covers our usual enjoyment of these special days, and we just don’t feel like celebrating or laughing. It may not seem right to enjoy something that our loved one cannot, or we are just not up for it. We do what is most comfortable at the time, or what our family or friends talk us into doing, and we find ways to bear the special days.
But what if there was a way to take charge of our grief experience? And a way to honor our loved ones, even in the midst of the sadness or distress of separation from them? Well, there is something we can do, and, it turns out, the act of making something happen actually helps us feel better, and more in charge.
CONSIDER SOME OF THESE IDEAS THAT GRIEVERS HAVE SHARED WITH US:*
- One daughter cooked her mom’s favorite meal and invited a few friends to share the experience. What came out of it was stories of her mom’s cooking, stories of mothers and daughters, sharing her mom’s recipes, some fun with friends, and a new happy
- Idea: Cook a loved one’s favorite meal and invite family or friends to a celebration dinner. For a twist, include children or grandchildren to pass on the family legacy of making and eating good food.
- A wife raved about her husband’s “grill skills” and was anticipating missing him at the Fourth of July family barbecue. She challenged the men in the family to have a turn at the grill, in her husband’s honor.
- Idea: Have a barbecue with his or her favorite grilled foods or do a cook-off to add a challenge to it.
- One son made a big deal of planning a fishing trip with his own young son, to teach him the same way his dad had taught him to fish. This gave the son a way to turn his sadness into something meaningful and pass on a family tradition.
- Idea: Take young children fishing (or some other hobby) to teach them what their special person liked to do.
- A friend researched symbols of determination and decided on an eagle as a reminder of his friend’s determination in fighting cancer. He then researched and found a necklace with an eagle.
- Idea: Choose a piece of jewelry with meaningful symbols. These can provide a sense of connection to your special person.
- One woman took her husband’s silk robe and had ties made for each of the men in the family.
- Idea: Take clothing and have it made into a pillow, a quilt, or ties.
- One man took his husband’s artwork and created a private showing of the art for friends. Not only did this honor the artistic talents of the husband, it also provided a sense of community for all to celebrate the person he was.
- Idea: Showcase a loved one’s collection privately or publicly, or find a way to finish a project s/he started.
- Two sisters made t-shirts with photos of their family members to wear at the
Gilchrist “Steps of Hope Tribute Walk and Butterfly Release.” It gave them a sense of closeness to their loved ones, and got others talking about their loved ones, too.
- Idea: Make t-shirts with a loved one’s photo for the family and wear at a family gathering or holiday.
- Many, many people have told us of sharing favorite stories and photos on Facebook, when a birthday or the one-year marker rolls around. This can give us a sense of community at a tough time, remind us that we are not the only ones who miss our special person, and we might enjoy a story we have never heard.
We don’t even have to have a special reason, a holiday or an anniversary to celebrate our loved ones. Any time, or any day is a fine time to shine a spotlight them. Not only does it honor the person who continues to mean something to us, but it can also lift our spirits and spread good feelings to others.
What is most personal, is also most meaningful. What will you do?
*Details have been changed to protect identity.