“Not a day goes by that
I don’t look at your picture
and smile.
Or cry.
Or both.”
/Jean Dean/

Often anniversaries of loved ones who have passed over are tough. Whether it’s their birthday, or anniversary of their death, or any other somehow special day – it is filled with memories and often very confusing feelings. It might be dreading how to get through the coming day, especially if the loss is recent. Or we might wonder how to celebrate their life if all we feel is sadness, deep pain, loneliness and sorrow. How to prepare for those anniversaries?

I would suggest that planning ahead is essential. Let the day be something we not only try to survive, but something that would give meaning to the loved one’s life, and, yes – also death, even if often there seems to be none to find.

I have written about that before and here are a few other practical ideas:

1. Be gentle with your own heart.

I feel this is actually the most important one. Give love to yourself, or at least acknowledgment and acceptance. No matter how resistant, how undeserving of it you feel. Give love to your broken heart, give love to the one who is angry, upset, resentful; to the one who is deeply hurting. Hand drawing heart in sand on the beach

How? In practice it looks very simple – sit down for a few minutes undisturbed. (Putting on a timer might be a good idea.) Put your hands on your heart and say to yourself: “I love you.” Emotions might come up or you might feel as if you are lying. That’s ok – say it anyway. Give yourself permission to be with whatever is. (This is one of my favourite practices and I give credit for it to spiritual teacher Matt Kahn.)

2. Surround yourself with people who love and support you.

Plan a gathering with a few friends or relatives who you know are there for you. It might be dinner together, or just having a cup of coffee. You might decide to go through photos and pictures together, remembering your loved one, sharing stories, jokes and sentiments. All together you might engage in some of below mentioned activities.

3. Give yourself permission to feel! And grieve… again and again… as much as you feel is needed.
It is paradox, but the more we allow ourselves to really be with emotions, without trying to change them, suppress or pretend we don’t have them, the quicker they dissipate. It is not just an intellectual process. Actually, the less we engage the mind, the better!

Feel your emotions in your body! Sometimes it’s quite obvious, like “I feel that pounding anger in my forehead”, or “that feeling of brokenness in my heart”. Sometimes it can be very blurred. Find the emotion or feeling in the body and breathe deeply into it. Like nothing else matters. Focus just on that. (If this feels too scary place to go, too overwhelming and you don’t feel safe – it’s better to look for help. Find a grief counsellor, a support group or a holistic practitioner, or just a trusted friend. Be with someone in the process.)

4. Do something that honours the life of your loved one. Something that was important and valued for them, or something that they simply enjoyed doing.

My little boy was an outdoor person. He loved adventures and plays in the fields and woods. So for me going someplace in nature is good not only because I myself love it, but it reminds me of what he enjoyed in life.

It can be visiting the place they loved, donating to their chosen charity, watching a movie they loved. Maybe cooking their favourite meal and setting the table and letting them have dinner with you?

5. Engage into creative activities or your own ritual.

• Creating a collage about your loved one?
• Journalling?
• Litting a candle and saying a prayer?
• Creating something by knitting, sewing or embroidery, that would bring back memories and remind you of your loved one?
• Writing poetry?
• Painting?

Share in comments below how you are honouring the memory of your loved one; how you are preserving and nurturing the connection you had while they were still in physical form here on Earth. I would love to hear your story!

Speak Your Mind