Skip to content

Archive for

When Anniversaries Attack

I expected a grand attack of grief upon the 10th anniversary of my father’s death, but it passed with a poised emotional response at the cemetery and a handful of flowers.

Not so this time. Next month marks the 12th anniversary of Dad’s death. And the ninth anniversary of Mom’s. And the 1st anniversary I’ll spend without their home, my grieving space.ToniProfilePic

How we respond as each anniversary approaches depends in part on the year, month or week that precedes it. Because grief has a way of meeting us where we are.

Right now, I’m in a season of embarking on new things. Excited, yes. But uncertain, too. We tend to run to anchors during uncertain times. After my widowed mother died, one anchor was her home, the place I grew up. Surrounded by their things, I felt as if my parents were there.

That was comforting. Each death anniversary I’d go to their home and go through their things. As the years passed, I finished the job of cleaning out their home. I sold the house in May.

I’ve got an anchor in God, but I also find myself reaching out for my parents during this uncertainty and change. Their loss is on the front row again. And while I’m not exploding in tears, I feel a sort of ache. The loss of the house has awoken the loss of them.

As we approach death anniversaries, we have four possible singular or combinations paths to take.

We may distract ourselves from grief. We may take on a project or go on a shopping spree or spend time with friends. A certain amount of distraction may be healthy, but we should not allow life to press us so far that we don’t deal with our grief.

We may dedicate time to memorialize our loved one. That’s what I did by going to my parents’ home each anniversary. This year, I need to make a new plan. I think I’ll go to the cemetery, but I’d like to do more to acknowledge the loss. Something meaningful. Honoring.

We may dive in or immerse our day in memory and tears. Setting aside time to grieve is an important part of healing. The only way to get to the other side of grief is to grieve. That may look different each year as our grief evolves and as different seasons of our lives unfold.

We may deny our grief or pretend we’re over the loss. That’s the unhealthy way to handle grief. It will emerge in other ways if we deny it a place in our consciousness. Again, the only way to minimize grief is to fully embrace it first.

So even though it’s been 12 years, I’ll bend to grief again in this new season of my life. I won’t deny it or say, “It’s been a dozen years already. Enough!” I’ll be compassionate with myself. And through that compassion I’ll find new ways to journey through grief.

What do you do when anniversaries attack? What’s your go-to plan? What helps most?

 

Copyright © 2018 by Toni Lepeska. All rights reserved. http://www.tonilepeska.com

 

 

 

Advertisements

Daddy: He’s Everywhere I Go

I was a Daddy’s Girl. I didn’t know it until after he died. A boyfriend told me. You’re a Daddy’s Girl. I guess that means I was close to my dad. So is it any wonder I still feel him near?

This Father’s Day will mark the 12th one without Dad. I don’t expect it to be a happy day, but I expect it to be at least a tolerable one. I love and miss my dad every day, but the edge is off my grief. Most days. But sometimes I again feel the knife turn in my belly. And the tears flow.

daddytonikiss.jpg

I give a kiss to my dad through the fence.

I think it helps to know he isn’t gone. He’s away. But not gone. He didn’t leave me willingly. And I’ll see him again. It’s like he’s on a trip overseas or to a distant – very distant – star.

I find pieces of my dad like crumbs along a trail. I come along the crumbs accidentally. Last week, I parked my bicycle in the shade to rest, looked up and discovered I was under an elm. Dad loved elms. A crumb may be a song he loved that plays in a store. Or a place I pass.

More recently, I perused a booklet that came with a fancy paint-by-number kit. My mother-in-law purchased the kits for our neighbors, ages 9 and 10, for Christmas. Unable to coordinate my mother-in-law and the kids being over at the house simultaneously, we decided it was time that they opened the gifts. Yes, in June, nearly six months after Christmas.

Read more

Putting a Price on Ourselves

Value. We put a price on everything. On houses. Cars. Jewels. Stocks. Milk. Eggs. Our morning hit of java. We also put a price on people. On relationships. And on ourselves.

We treat everything according to how much we value it. Or how we value him or her. We will protect our person from all sorts of harms. And things we may lock in a vault. Whatever it is we value, we spend time admiring it.ToniDoor

Do you treasure yourself? We know more about ourselves than anyone knows. We know about all the dents. All the angry words in traffic. All the vengeful thoughts. All the curse words under our breath. All the ways we might have helped someone – but didn’t. Can we value ourselves despite those ugly truths?

I was thinking about value the other day while cleaning my mother’s wind chimes. As a child, I loved to hear them tinkle from the wind that drifted into the open windows. A sound memory.

One of the last things I removed from my parents’ home last month before selling it was the wind chimes. The five metal tubes hung below a pagoda that dangled from a delicate chain. I don’t suppose the chime would sell for more than a dollar at a yard sale, but it’s valuable to me. Despite the tarnish and the thick covering of dust. Valuable.

Read more