After losing a loved one, specific dates will stand out from the others. These dates can bring about an overwhelming sense of anxiety and sadness. The dates of when an illness was diagnosed or an accident that happened, a birthday, or the day they passed away, are some of the triggers for many grievers. The season in which these things happened can also bring about uncomfortable feelings, because they often bring along reminders. The smell of the air, the color of the leaves, the weather, etc.
My son was born in December and passed away in January. While the world was happily shopping for Christmas presents and going to holiday parties, I was begging for God to save my son’s life. Christmas has never been the same since, and it has been almost twelve years since he gained his angel wings.
Some people will find themselves obsessing over the significant dates that are drawing near by doing a mental countdown. In the beginning, I would obsess over the exact time of day my son passed away. I would look at the clock every day at that time and start crying. This happened for the first few weeks, then it spread out more. I would find myself thinking of the day of the week that he died, and before I knew it, I was counting the months. Now, I have counted many years, but the holiday season still gets to me.
Every year on my son’s birthday, I get helium balloons and my husband, daughter and I all staple little notes to the bottom. We sing “Happy Birthday” to him, and release them. We watch them until they disappear in the sky. I always have a small cake with candles and we blow them out together. I still want to include my child in our life, and that is what works for us. Everyone has something special that they could turn into a memorial tradition on these difficult dates. If you aren’t sure what to do, sit down with the family and talk about of some special ideas that would be meaningful for everyone.
On the anniversary of a loved one’s passing, making a donation in their name is a nice acknowledgement, and it helps others as well. You can donate to a child in need, an organization for a specific illness, or even donate your time. Many people who have lost a child collect teddy bears from friends and family, and give them to the sick children in the hospital.
Whatever you choose to do, just know that it is normal to fall to pieces during these significant dates. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family and friends for comfort, or to take extra time to be alone in your thoughts. Support groups are also very helpful during these hard days. You can find a list of various resources and support on the tab at the top of this page.
My wish for you is comfort and peace during these difficult times.