That First Year.
From first hand experience, I know that surviving all of the key dates in the first year, when you have lost someone you love, is hard. It is hard on so many levels. Some key dates mean so much, and celebrating without them there seems unbearable. On the other hand some dates can pass by without you really realising, and then you feel guilty for not being upset.
I have said it before, and I will say it again, grief and guilt play such a huge part in our lives following a death. At first we find it hard to pick up our normal lives and routines. The guilt that we are able to do so can be overwhelming, and yet we need to return to normality for our own sake. So we are damned if we do, and damned if we don't.
Each of those key dates are something that we know will be hard. In particular, Christmas and Birthday's stand out as times we will struggle. Maybe the birth of a new family member, or a Wedding bring your loved one to the forefront of your thoughts. No doubt they would have loved to be there with you celebrating these momentous occasions.
Of course this doesn't mean that you shouldn't celebrate. Your life has to continue, after all I doubt very much if you would wish anyone to stop living their life to the full when you die.
We are often reminded by the death of a loved one, how fragile life is, and we are determined to enjoy every second, whilst we can. However, that grief and guilt that we feel still tinges everything we do.
In my opinion we have to survive that first year. All of those celebrations and occasions need to be coped with. We need to get through them, so that we know that we can survive and move forward. Of course this doesn't lessen the hole in our lives. It doesn't reduce the grief and pain, but it does mean that we know we can cope.
Some people chose to place a photo of their loved one, or a candle for example, in the room where the celebration is taking place. Some lay a place at the table to show that they aren't forgotten. For me, I just take time to remember, and to know that they would want me to enjoy the occasion.
Of course we would all like to think that we will be missed, we wouldn't be human if we didn't, but I would never wish anyone I love to feel that they couldn't continue their life without me. I want them to go out and celebrate, enjoy every moment, continue the traditions we have made together and live life to the full. For me that would be my perfect legacy. After all life is for living.
Having said that, it isn't always so easy, and that first year can be hard. I just hope that for everyone who is grieving, that once that first year has passed then their grief becomes easier to live with, and they realise there is nothing at all to feel guilty about.