Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Do you celebrate a birthday after someone dies?

Today's my dad's birthday. Or it would have been, as he passed away just over 7 years ago. Whenever November 2nd rolls around, I often wonder what an appropriate response to the day might be. Do I mark the occasion in some way? Or do I simply let it slip past without a mention?

Lots of questions, and I honestly have no answers. I don't know what's considered right or not right, and I've learned since we first got that awful call that there's no right or not right in the entire grieving process. Everyone navigates it differently, and we all do whatever we feel we need to do to get through it.

Mind you, you're never really through it, either. It pops back into your head at the most unexpected of times. It irrevocably changes the direction of our lives - sometimes subtly, sometimes more obviously. This isn't in and of itself a negative thing. It just is. Another wave in the ocean of life, if you will, and it's up to us to just ride the thing and see where it takes us.

Maybe after 7 years I should stop fretting over whether I'm doing the "right" thing and just be glad that I'm still here, and still have the capacity, to wonder about these things at all. Maybe "celebrate" needs a new definition, one that extends beyond the narrow-band view of birthday cake and candles, to something a little more reflective of a life well lived. If the day brings me a good memory or two - and it has - then perhaps I should simply close my eyes for a bit and enjoy it for what it is. Everything else is a distraction.

2 comments:

Kalei's Best Friend said...

As someone who has lost a spouse, brother, parents... (need I go on).. My kids and I never officially celebrated.. We remembered, the date, as well as the date they have passed.. You must not question what u should /should not do.. You do what is best for you.. For years, my Grandmother would look at the calendar that she had marked of the dates my Grandfather's health started declining... trips by ambulance, date of death.... She even marked the date when she declared how much her life had changed... That calendar page is in my possession... The hurt is no longer there but the remembrance is... It's a comfort seeing that page, and yet it brings it all back..

Karen S. said...

Well, that's pretty much up to how one's heart and soul is feeling. But I do know that I keep my loved ones in my thoughts and conversations all the time. When I go to the cemetery folks that may not know me think my parents are alive yet. Because I say I'm going to see my dad or mom today! Luckily we have family members that look, or mostly behave like some of our loved ones that are gone, and we all chat about it all the time. Keeping our loved ones in our thoughts, it's essential to us. Keeping them alive in the only way we can. Our beloved pets are included in this way of carrying on. As for absent members, when my son-in-law was in Iraq we celebrated with a family dinner and placed his photo at the table. Amazing how he loved seeing that photo!