A Different Way to Handle a Death Anniversary

Friday will be the fifth anniversary of my dad’s death. In some ways, my life has moved forward since his death day, the way it does when you work through your grief and get on with your own business of living.

headstones in a graveyard of various ages and conditions of decay

The legacy of a life is not summed up in the anniversary day of death, or in the anniversary day of birth. The legacy is in the great expanse of the life that was lived.

In other ways, I still miss him as though it were only a few days ago when I got the call that it was time to come home and say good-bye. The anniversary of a death day can be a difficult time – it can bring back painful feelings of loss. But then again, it may not.

While grief is a sign of your love for the person who has died, the timing of renewed grief is not tied to religious or cultural events or dates of personal significance. Grief knows no season – it is not confined to one time of year or to special dates on a calendar. Your expression of your grief need not be dictated by those dates either.

A Different Way to Handle a Death Anniversary

When the anniversary of the death day of someone you loved rolls around, you can choose to express yourself and your feelings about your loved one in many different ways.

You can choose express yourself and your feelings about a death day with a heavy heart. With tears. With grief.

If that’s what you want.

Or, you can choose to express yourself about the life that was lived with a celebration. With something that was meaningful to the two of you. With something that has become meaningful to you since then.

If that’s what you want.

Or, you can choose to express yourself by going through the day just like it is any other day.

It’s okay to even forget the significance of the date when the death day rolls around. It’s fine if you remember that it is coming, and then, wake up one day and realize, geez, the death anniversary was yesterday, or last week.

However you choose to express yourself, it should be exactly that. Your choice. Not what you think you should do. Not what others think you should do.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Love is not confined to dates on a calendar. Loss is not confined to dates on a calendar. Both emotions are meant to be acknowledged, accepted and expressed whenever they are felt.

You honor your own life, you honor your relationship, your memory, and the life of the one you have lost, by honoring your own needs and recognizing your own boundaries for self expression.

Life, your life, is a joy to be lived, not a burden to be endured. Experience and express it joyfully, with gratitude. Even in grief.

So grieve when you need to, however much or as little as you need, and at the time you need to grieve. If you feel grief more during holidays, or around the birthday or the anniversary of the death day of the deceased, that’s fine. If you sail through those special days, but come undone while relaxing on a sunny beach or every time it rains, that’s fine too.

How I Will Celebrate Dad’s Death Day

It’s funny how events conspire to bring your mind back to those you love who are no longer in your life. I talked with my brother on Saturday, and now I find myself thinking about Dad several times a day. This, despite the fact neither of us mentioned Dad.

I notice my grief now is different than my grief when it was fresh. Now, my grief includes happy memories of times together. Regrets for things we didn’t get to do. Acknowledgement and acceptance for his imperfections. Appreciation for his wisdom.

So, later this week I will call my mom, as I do every week. As always, I’ll ask her how she is and what she’s been doing. And some time during the conversation, I’ll bring up Dad, because I will want to. If she wants to talk about him, I will listen. If I want to talk about him, she’ll listen to me. She will appreciate that I have not let the day go by unnoticed, whether or not either of us is feeling especially sad on that day.

Live Honest, Open and True

When you are facing the anniversary of the death of a loved one, you have many choices in how you commemorate the day. The best choice is the one that suits your needs at the time. You honor your memories and the relationship when you use your courage to express yourself. I believe in you and want the best for you and know you can achieve the best for yourself.

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What do you think you should you do for a death day anniversary? Share your ideas in the comments or tweet me, @lifeishotblog with the hash tag #LifeIsHOT!

Related Posts: Express Yourself

The Right Thing to Say When Someone Dies

What Happens When You Speak of Grief

The Art of Comforting Someone in Mourning

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