On the anniversary of your parent’s death. What choice are you making?
Those of you that know my story know that around 6 years ago I lost 6 family members in 4 months.
Exactly 6 years ago today was when the 4-month period began with the first of the 6 deaths. Exactly 6 years ago today is the day that my dad died.
Now I considered, for about 30 seconds, writing a blog about how to handle the anniversary of your parent’s death. But I won’t for two reasons:
1) Because I have written several other blogs relating to just after they have died, mother’s day, father’s day, Christmas, their birthday etc…and these have useful tips and ideas. And much more importantly…..
2) because I don’t need to ‘handle’ the day, or try to make it easy, or find a way to honour my dad or remember him. Or to manage my pain. Because I don’t have any pain around my dad’s death. I honour and remember him everyday because it never hurts me to think about him. The anniversary of his death isn’t a painful thing. What it does it let me reflect on how grateful I am for the gifts he gave me through his life AND his death. It allows me to think about the legacy he created through his life AND his death. It lets me reflect on what incredible meaning his life held. And …you guessed it…what incredible meaning his death held too.
I could write tip and idea and suggestion one after the other to help you manage these days….but there is something much bigger for you to think about. There is a choice for you to make. One that you may not have realised you have already made. One that you continue to make every day.
The first few months after losing someone can be anything from ok to absolutely horrific and I don’t think a lot of choices about what you are going through happen there. But they do afterwards.
The choice you make, every day, is around this question: “do I keep doing this? Do I stay in pain? Do I continue to stay stuck in grief?” Every day that you hurt, and grieve, and miss them, and try to make sense of it without being able to, and let time pass, and avoid thinking about them or cling to the pain for dear life….you are making a choice.
Now I’m not daft or insensitive and if you’ve read the first line of this blog you’ll remember that I’m speaking from (very) direct experience. You do not just decide to stop grieving. This isn’t giving up biting your nails, or stopping eating white bread, or quitting cigarettes. This change is more like deciding to get fit, in that making the decision to do it means you then have to go and do something about it. And every day that you don’t is a day that you choose to stay in the same place you are.
I feel so blessed that I started this day early working with a client. That’s how I started the 6-year anniversary of my dad’s death. This is how I celebrate him. This client lost her mother years ago, actually wasn’t in a great deal of pain, but just wanted to see if there was anything left there and if she could feel closer to her mum. There was. And she did. And I am so honoured to have been able to work with her, on today of all days.
I decided years ago that I wasn’t happy with this ‘grief lasts forever’ and ‘time heals’ nonsense and I searched damn long and hard to find real answers. And I found them. But first I had to make a choice.
So what choice are you making?
Every day…. what choice are you making about the people in your life that you have lost? Do you choose to keep on allowing their memories to be a source of pain to you? Do you choose to allow time to slowly erode your memories of them so that it hurts less?
Maybe this sounds a bit harsh…but today I am reflecting on the alternative of what my life would have looked like had I not made a different choice. And it saddens me to think – for my own sake and for my dad’s – if I hadn’t made the choice I did I wouldn’t be able to feel connected, or grateful to, or remember and love my dad the way I do. I wouldn’t see the meaning in his life that I do.
So when you are ready to make a different choice and do something then get in touch with me. Or find someone else who works with grief (but make completely sure it’s someone who speaks to you about true change and healing and can actually get you there).
Their death anniversary can be a beautiful day. But while you choose to stay in pain the only anniversaries that won’t hurt you at all are probably the ones you forget.
If you have been following my 30-day challenge then today I will be writing my 5-minute love letter to my dad, to thank him for who he was, the difference he made, and for the incredible role he played in my life.
I dedicate this blog to the client I worked with this morning. I am so grateful to have been able to be part of her experience today.
I dedicate my work, my mission, the change in every client I have helped and every client I will help, to the man who set me on a new path, who taught me more than any other teacher, and who continues to teach me every day. My dad. The man who taught me the true power that a single choice in your life can make.
As always I’d love to hear from you directly below or by email if you have any comments, thoughts, or questions.