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Birthdays….Anniversaries….Funerals

All is now a crumpled piece of paper in the trash, or the memories in your head.
All is now a crumpled piece of paper in the trash, or the memories in your head.Microsoft

There are many dates on the timeline of life that trigger happy memories. Those joyful recollections float in our head, and we smile. However, some dates take us spiraling back into a state of grief. The anguish does not seem to drift in and out of our minds, but lingers in our hearts for hours or for days. Why is it that when a certain date elicits sadness; we hang on to it longer than we do the happy thoughts? Why is it that a date can take something we are trying to heal and re-open the wound? What can we do to make it through in a constructive way?

Birthdays:

Ah, how we love the happy memories of birthdays. The cake, the ice cream, the balloons, the cards, the gifts, the friends, and loved ones gathered to celebrate. However, the biggest joy of birthdays is when you have picked the perfect gift or planned the ideal celebration for someone you love. Birthdays are a time to make wishes come true.

On the other hand, when someone you loved has left, a child has died, a friendship has ended, and the day of their birthday rolls around you remember. You recollect the dreams you already planned for their birthday. You recall the perfect gift you found for them. It may have been that piano so grand, that chance to fly in the sky, to dive in the sea, that pony in the back yard, the new car with a bow on top, the gift that was going to make one of their lifelong dreams come true. You think of the splendid party you planned and the invitation list. You may have planned months ahead, excited to see their face light up as you surprised them. All is now a crumpled piece of paper in the trash, or the memories in your head. You can no longer spend that extraordinary day with that special person or child. The day of their birthday, your heart aches and tears stream down your face; as you would give the world to spend the day with them.

What can you do to get through that day without thoughts so sad you can’t function? Pretend that day is everyone’s birthday that you encounter. Treat them special. Send cake to a random table at a restaurant; watch their faces light up. Tip the fast food worker in a big way. Go to a retirement village and take flowers to someone who never gets them. Send all the love in your heart, and good birthday wishes, to that person or child you can’t celebrate with. You can still love that day that prompts depression, because the sadness is triggered by the deep love you have for the person born on that day. Even if the lover left, the child or spouse died, or the friendship ended, no one can take the love from you that you hold dear and tenderly in your heart. Take that love that can’t be returned, and spread your portion to share with others; to let them have a special treat in honor of the person you can’t be with.

Anniversaries:

Wedding anniversaries, work anniversaries, cancer-free anniversaries, or the special anniversaries of life that are your unique days, are filled with happy memories. These are also days that the date on the calendar can trigger depression. The anniversary that is no more because of death or divorce, the job anniversary that ended because of losing that employment, the cancer that returns, and so many more days of significance. Anniversaries are reminders of the excitement of new starts, or the marking of the years that a marriage or job has sustained, or surviving a disease.

There are also some things you can do to help you get through the days of celebrations that are no longer. You can denote that day as the day you start a new anniversary. You can begin to write that book, start that diet, or apply for that new job. In fact, make many anniversaries for yourself and create some for your community by starting support groups, or goal-setting groups, or running for a political office, the possibilities have no limit.

Funerals:

Funerals represent the end of life on earth. Those left behind are often devastated. The death of our partner, our parents, our children, or our sister or brother makes for another heartbreaking day on the calendar of life. A funeral can also happen the day someone stops communicating with you, and closes the door on you. With death the lid of the casket is closed forever, if the person is still alive, you may have another chance for the door to open.

No one can understand your unique way of grieving, or how long it will take. Some may say that a person should not be so sad because they were not even close to their sister or brother, parent, or partner. Even those that know you well, and think you should not grieve, do not know the memories you cherish privately, and dear in your heart. You can’t bring the dead back to life for one more hug, one more chance to say I love you, or even a chance to tell them all you have been holding inside of you. When that day of death rolls around on your calendar and stabs you at the core with grief once again, treat yourself gently. Sleep a lot, eat well, be with friends, and honor that special person by living your life abundantly.

The joy of the day on the calendar is about life being lived; the sadness comes from loss:

It will never be the same.
You will never be the same.

Love and life came,
Love left and life left.

You will survive until you have survived.
One day you will be alive again.
That will be the day of your birth, your anniversary, your life.