Special Occasions

Chapter 7 from Grieving Forward – Embracing Life Beyond Loss by Susan Duke

I’m actually passing some of the material in this chapter as I’ve visited the topic of gifts many times before. Decided I’d review something I believe is so very important for a grieving parent. A topic Duke talks about mid way through this chapter – dealing with special occasions. I think it continues to be a very source of anxiety for me even after nearly five years since Brittany’s death. The longing for things to be as they were and knowing they cannot be is often so painful that there have been times I just wanted to sleep through them.

I’m about to enter what I call the dark days again…..they just keep returning each each around September and stay until New Years. It’s a time of great memories and great heartache. Some days the memories are so profound and magical that I find myself so thankful I can recall them. Then there are days when the memories are so hard to handle. Duke relates so well to this issue that she states “Even years after our loss, despite how much healing has occurred in our lives, certain events often make us wish we could cancel these dates from the rest of our lives.” I too feel that way – still today.

There are things we can do to help ourselves and others during these times and I would encourage you all to be mindful that the holidays are the worst time for those who have lost loved ones. It can be a lonely time. And it can remain that way for a very long time.

While attending Grace Community Church in Indianapolis, I enjoyed the Remembrance Service the church put on each fall to help remember those loved ones that had gone on to Heaven before us. It was a bonding experience with those, like me, who had to deal with the on-going pain of the upcoming holiday season. I will miss that this year. Now I find myself having to find another way to release that memory, that pain for it overshadows everything I do during the holidays.

Making new memories has been hard for me, moving back to Indy helped me reconnect with family that I had lost touch with over the many years of being away. Now I find myself in a new city, facing this holiday with an uncertain plan. I must however have a plan. It’s so important for me to ensure my ability to make new memories, while respecting my past life with Brittany. It’s a delicate balance and one that I can’t afford to be without.

It is so important to bring a season of celebration and love from the one who has been lost because it marks the blessing that enriched your life for a different season in your life. Creating a sense of celebration and new traditions allows you to incorporate the blessings of the old life with the blessings of the new life.

Some of the traditions I have today are from the great woman who raised me. I choose to light a candle for Brittany on her birthday. I eat macaroni and cheese because it was her favorite food. I wear the dog tags that were made by her friends for her Celebration of Life for the month of October and her “Brittany” bracelet for the month of November, her birth month. For Christmas I hang a special ornament or two just in memory of Brittany.

It’s all bittersweet sometimes and I have to allow the tears to fall. But I would never, ever trade one day of those memories of my life with her. It’s the days without her that are at some times unbearable, but it’s those moments with her wonderful smile or her funny wit that I am reminded of a beautiful spirit that surrounds me everyday and that spirit is my daughter.

until next time


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