My family has marked off both good dates and bad dates to observe on the calendar. We have done this as far back as I can remember. What do I mean by good dates and bad dates? Well one generally thinks of anniversaries in terms of happy moments not sad ones. For my family we think of both. This week my family will be observing the anniversary of my father’s passing.
Sounds a little morbid?
Maybe to a lot of Western society if it is a quick passing thought. Give it a little more thought. A lot of cultures still celebrate the anniversaries of those who have passed, like el Dia de los muertos.
The exception here being that instead of one day to celebrate all of our ancestors we remember our most recent losses on the actual day of their passing. For some that is what is the hard part to digest because that makes it seem morbid, perhaps like we are happy for the loss, or just that it’s sad and weird.
None of this is strange to us.
Our family remembers my grandfather’s and grandmother’s passing on the day we lost each of them (with a thought or a prayer) but we celebrate their life and love on their wedding day, the 4th of July. We celebrate each passing in a different way. For ancestors long past we remember them on All Souls Day or at the end of the year before a new one is rung in.
I have been thinking of the anniversary of my dad’s passing for months. What are we going to do come the day? Will we eat at one of his favorite restaurants? Perhaps the weather will be good enough that we could do on a “Sunday drive” like he loved to do or go sit and people watch in his favorite park. Whatever we decide, we will talk and remember. We will celebrate my dad’s life.
My mom is still not “ok” with my father’s passing. Why should she be? Doing something my dad would love to do on the day we lost him is just one way she copes. The act of doing something special on this day with my mom helps her to know that she does not walk this path alone.
The feelings we have while on this path (loss) are all our own. However the journey does not have to be taken alone.
I often think of the Footprints in the Sand poem when I think about the journey through loss. In some ways its no wonder, I had a poster of that poem on my wall growing up. My mom and dad did not decorate my nursery/bedroom with all the things we think of as traditional today. Rather they filled my bedroom walls with values, hopes and dreams they wanted my life to be filled with. That poem was one of those values or points of inspiration, and it has guided me through life.
Still the loss of my father hits me hard at times. I can be doing something I do everyday when all of a sudden a smell reminds me of him or I have this strong urge to talk to him. At those moments I break down because I cannot simply call him. Talking about him, remembering him, celebrating his life on his birthday and the day he died… well it all helps me cope with his loss.
On days where the loss feels excruciating and I just want to hear my dad’s voice more than anything… I pop in my wedding video and listen to him. Other days when I miss his advice I think “what would dad do?” or instead of talking to myself (yes I am one of those), I talk to my dad. The act of just saying, under my breath, “Dad, I wish you were here. You would know where this item is located at the hardware store without even going. Help me.” Well that act helps center me. I may not find that item without asking but I don’t feel as lonely in my search.
Not sure that celebrating the anniversaries of your loved ones and ancestors’ loss is your thing? It doesn’t have to be. This is just how I was raised and it is my family’s way.
Celebrating anniversaries of those who have passed:
If this is a concept you are interested in more information on, here are a few websites to help you with your journey through love, loss and grief:
Not sure calling the day your loved one passed an “anniversary” is for you? Here are some more thoughts on that topic: