I will forever associate the colorful leaves, cool breeze and crisp air of Autumn with the helplessness I felt 7 years ago knowing my mother could slip from life at any moment. Ladies and gentleman I submit to you an entry from my now defunct photoblog posted on October 26th, 2012… Choose a ritual that can be repeated in the years to come.
On the morning of October 24th I stepped out of my house and as soon as the smell of fall hit me I thought, holy crap, is it the day? Litsa and I have written many blog posts about dealing with grief on special days.
When I looked at the date and realized it was actually the day after, I was shocked. We helped you reframe Valentines Day, we offered you 8 New Year’s resolutions for grievers, we suggested a fun family activity for remembering loved ones on Easter, we came up with a list of ways to remember your loved one during the holiday season, we challenged you to search for joy on Mother’s Day, and Litsa laid out a rock star tutorial on Father’s Day sulking. Visit or spend time in a place where you feel close to your loved one. Take the trip you had been planning or dreaming about. Read old notes, letters, or e-mails from your loved one.
Clearly we advocate for finding constructive ways to acknowledge and cope with tough days; although I will totally support you in ignoring them if you so choose. Some will want to fully feel the sadness and emotion of the day (what I like to call ‘wallowing with a purpose’), some will want to stay positive, some will want to do a quick and casual acknowledgement, and some will want to spend the entire day focused on the deceased.
But we highly recommend on days like the anniversary of a death that you first consider finding ways to honor and remember. Whatever you do we recommend you think ahead, anticipate the hard parts, and make a plan. Reach out to someone else grieving the loss via letter, card, phone call, or e-mail. Host a dinner party and invite those who knew your loved ones best. Cook your loved ones favorite dish, use one of their recipies to prepare a meal, or host a pot luck and ask people to bring a dish your loved one liked.
It’s painful because it’s a belief that something that is impossible is could be possible…
and therefore sets countless impossible expectations into motion.
To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of 30 ways to honor and remember your loved one on the anniversary of their death. Do this alone and have a good cry or reminisce over photo albums with family and friends. Turn digital photos into a photo album on Shutterfly or Snapfish. Donate a few of your loved ones old belongings to a shelter or other charity.
You may also be interested in our (free) mini e Course, Managing Grief on Holidays and Special Days. Take flowers to the grave site, memorial site, or other place where you go to remember your loved one. If you don’t want to give away any of their things, just make a charitable donation in their name. Volunteer with a charity or cause close to your loved ones heart.
For people that haven’t yet fully realized that all of us need to be emotionally responsible (which is most people), this is where much of the pain of the breakup originates from (they blame themselves for not “measuring up”…
or they blame the other person for not “making them happy”… It’s incredibly painful to believe that someone else could be responsible for your emotions or that you could possibly be responsible for their emotions.
I’ve heard things like “When a guy’s relationship ends, he replaces her.