Death Anniversaries are hard… there is no way around that. There’s not a way to predict if “this year will be harder, or easier” or even what the scale would look like if there was one to begin with. Grief is a unique emotion and plays with the other emotions we go through and are currently experiencing, I’ve discovered.
July 1 is a hard day. It just is. I want it to be a day that I pause and reflect, let myself feel. I also want to connect with my loved ones and relate with them as they experience July 1 too. But I don’t want them to feel they NEED to spend time with me, as that isn’t the point. I want to be strong for those that are also grieving; his brothers, the other family that lost their son too, his friends, his stepdad, but I can’t know what they need, even though I desperately want to make this less painful for them. It’s just hard… everyone grieves differently and needs the space to do it as they process their own journey. It is a time of honoring and giving room to just be. I wish there were a manual, a place, a guidebook to scroll through to check and see if I’m doing this “well”…
Today, July 2, I am reflecting on how I want this day to look and renewing my mind a bit. Asking myself questions, and using the coach approach with myself. What would make this day better for me? What could I do that would create a space of “grieving well” on this date going forward? What do I need to do for myself? For others? I know I cannot dictate others’ actions, nor would I want to, so what is it that I want to be sure to do for myself that doesn’t depend on others on this date?
Even as I type these questions out, I feel a renewing beginning to happen: a lifting of the burden of wanting this Hard Day to be better, and just allowing myself to “be”. I am realizing that in stressing about the “doing it well” I was overlooking the “being” well in the process. To “be” fully present when my breath catches as I recall Jeremy’s life moments that brought great joy, laughter, and love; to “be” aware that love is eternal and I can think on those things that are eternal, just gone from my earthly experience – his laugh, his sense of humor, that smile that lit up every gathering he was at. How that grin must be even larger in heaven! To “be” gentle with myself as I circle and cycle through the grief journey, wanting to know the end, but realizing more with each passing year, it continues. Lessens in intensity, but it is a lifelong process I am learning. Each event, each milestone, there is an awareness of his absence and we grieve a bit more, little by little, letting another tear gently fall to once again cleanse the soul of a bit more sadness.
So, next year, I will be sure to write my son a letter, watch his video/photo montage, sit in his memorial garden and create space to be present with myself. This day is hard…and I can sit with God and let Him hold me as I continue to walk forward this year, and, Lord willing, be even more present in the next Hard Day.