Each of us should agree that our grief is very personal and individual. It is important to recognize that there are often similarities to our experiences.
When my son died, I began to realize that I could often relate to my friend Beth. Although she had not lost a child, she did experience the shocking horror of her first husbands death. Beth introduced to me the term- "post traumatic stress" and how it relates to a shocking death experience.
Please read Beth's most recent article. It captures the essence of grief during the cruel anniversary month.
Hugs mama friends--
Nineteen years ago next week my beloved first husband died. It was Good Friday that year, and a bad day all around. My children were tiny. Fortunately, my mother, father, brother and sister-in-law drew close to us, and carried us through that desperate time. There is so much about that year I still cannot remember, about which I must ask. And those times passed.
For years there were times of remembrance that could make me gasp with the pain of it again. For a while those times were frequent, mundane, as the time when we drove around the curve of our street and saw his Jeep, and my son said as always, but before he remembered, “Daddy’s HOME!” Those first few years I continued to think I saw glimpses of him in crowds. I found perfect gifts for his birthday and for Christmas. And those times passed.
As the years continued, spring, summer, fall, winter, spring, summer, fall, winter, I noted occasions when he was most greatly missed: a birthday here, a vacation there, a flat tire, a decision about a new furnace, a small boy who needed someone to wrestle him, a small girl who needed to be carried by a dad who was stronger than me as she grew. And those times passed.
And there were changes, and new joys: a second husband, a father for my children, a son-in-law for my aging parents, and a brother for my brother. There were new moments of great happiness and new challenges. New ways of being were required of us, new habits of worship and finance, new sleeping arrangements for a combination of five children now, coordination of shower times, surprises all along. “Oh yeah! This is a different husband, marriage, family than before....” Can we change enough, hold on enough and let go enough to move forward into new life? And those times passed.
And the years continued, spring, summer, fall, winter, spring, summer, fall, winter. And the memories were less painful, and I began to worry about forgetting what was most precious. I wrote memories down, and felt that joy and that sorrow again as I did so, but was glad to have recorded the best of times. And my now husband began to know that April was the cruelest month, during which I would be tearful for no immediately known reason, when he would need to say to me, “Let’s go outside, let’s get into the sun, let’s go to this movie, let’s hear this concert, here is your dinner, it’s time for a date.” And the hard times passed.
This year someone asked me, “What rituals do you use in April to help you get through?” And I count my resources: a Sad Songs playlist in iTunes, a Memory Candle, flowers for the table, poems of remembrance, too many journals in which April days are darkest, a longing for my children (now far from me), and the rueful awareness that everyone has a day like this, a saddest day. And every year my resources grow, and I am more nearly comforted. And the hard times pass.
Carrie Newcomer sings a song called “Gathering of Spirits.” She writes “I can’t explain it; I couldn’t if I tried, how the only things we carry are the things we hold inside. Like a day in the open, like the love we won’t forget, like the laughter that we started and it hasn’t died down yet.” Remember the laughter. Always remember the laughter.
A prayer for us: Most Loving Comforter of all of us who mourn, we cry to you from the depths and find ourselves raised from the death that is grief. Strengthen us for this journey from death to life, with the “gathering of spirits and a festival of friends.” Help us laugh again. Amen