Tuesday’s Thoughts: I’ve been thinking a lot about important dates for the bereaved. Today is one client’s birthday. She has lost every member of her original family, most recently a sibling. Her birthday was always “a big deal” in her family and this year, her first alone, she has decided to not have a birthday. She has told her friends to ignore it and she plans to spend the day alone at home. Another client will be spending what would have been her 50th wedding anniversary alone, by choice. Yet another gathered her family together and they all went out to dinner to celebrate her anniversary, though her husband died 8 months ago. One fellow set an empty place setting and ordered his wife’s favorite beverage at their favorite restaurant when he went to dinner with his family for his wife’s birthday. So which way is the right way?
The short answer is both ways…because it was what worked for each individual. Grief is a solitary journey no matter how good your support system is…you are the only one feeling your feelings. There can be a danger in isolating too completely and shutting out all support, but occasionally it can be useful. My client celebrating her birthday today is normally very social and has an excellent support system, but today she feels she needs to stay at home and be alone and remember and feel the feelings. That is part of the healing process and I support her decision. My client who went to dinner and set the empty place setting wanted to honor his wife publicly on her birthday as his way of memorializing her. I supported his decision as well. Neither is the right way and neither is the wrong way. It’s their way. And that’s okay.
copyright 2014 Lisa B. Wolfe, Translating Grief, LLC