Anniversaries can be a particularly poignant and thought provoking time for families and individuals when
- someone has died
- when there is a diagnosis that does not align with meeting the next target anniversary
- when the absence of that person represents a significant change to the “normal” structure of the event.
This week (mid February 2017) was the one year anniversary of my mother’s passing. The whole year has been difficult, for a variety of reasons, and not just the fact that she was no longer about, but I won’t bore you with the long story! Suffice to say it has been a very tough year for many others in 2016, and the same went for me too.
I also realised that for a week or two before the actual date I was getting increasingly anxious about the day. Crazy really – just like so many other days, it will pass! But I thought I would share how I have dealt with it – and it may inspire you to be proactive too.
But, before I do, I will say that by comparison Christmas went by fairly easily – and there is a lesson in there for you too. So, read on!..
How wise an owl are you? How can you manage your emotions and feelings or are you at the mercy of their effects?
Clearly if you are at the mercy of your brain there is an aspect of being a VICTIM – and no-one wants this, do they?
There are two parts to this conversation –
- one is on the level of your actual feelings and how you experience with them.
- The other is the choices you make and is not necessarily given by your feelings, but can be advised by them. Different huh?
Read that bit again, so it is really clear for you.
I have had such a tough year – on every level and topic you can imagine, but the hardest thing was not having my Mum about to talk to. We didn’t speak all that often but it was only AFTER she had gone that I realised just what an amazing stand she was for my life and my ambitions. Also, how much I relied on her just BEING THERE (even if we didn’t speak) – she was a fabulous support structure. So – if I scored a victory – I could no longer give her a call and say “Guess what?….”
I think this was part of what caused some of the anxiety about the one-year anniversary – acknowledging over and over that she wasn’t about during the last year and that there was nothing wrong. But, whatever it was, it certainly got me thinking!!!
During this challenging time I, like many, have gone through the ups and downs of “being” bereaved (there are 5 distinct stages and they are dealt with in the Freedom at the End of Life Course in lots of detail) – and with that I got the roller coaster of emotions and feelings that you experience. Sometimes these are related to specific things which act as triggers – sometimes they just arise.
Sudden pangs of despair or joy or frustration can take you over – like a wave – and knock you off kilter for a bit. This is quite normal! Realising this can be a powerful gift to yourself.
Knowing and experiencing heightened emotions, some of which you hadn’t realised were even lurking can be difficult in itself, especially if they come at awkward moments.
DOING something either about the raw emotion or choosing to ACT differently in spite of the emotion can give you access to a whole new world.
As a simple example – if a wave of loss and despair comes over you, it is very easy to burst into tears and wallow in self pity, dejection and apathy. Yes! This is common, almost normal! But then the emotion “wins” or is in control of YOU.
To acknowledge that you are feeling horrible and its probably just part of the letting go process; and then to actively put to one side your feelings and CHOOSE another course of action and way of being puts you firmly in the driving seat! You may decide to go out for a walk and some fresh air, ring a friend or engage in a hobby vs mope at home. PS Asking for help or support is also a strong action to take. Nudges and encouragement from family or friends make a big difference.
So – getting back to the title of this piece of anniversaries… and it doesn’t matter what sort they may be..
How they are going to go and how you experience them will largely depend on WHAT YOU CHOOSE. They DO NOT have to be governed by your feelings, thoughts, emotions or dramas about them!
So – what will you CHOOSE when there is an impending anniversary coming up?
As a follow-up to my Mums “One Year Anniversary” I chose to work. My Osteopathy is important to me (and my clients of course). Many times my Mum and I have agreed that I work to help the living – how the dead fare is not my business – I leave that to others – spiritualists etc. I did spend time reflecting on her life, where things were at now and pondering what she would want me to do going forward. I also spoke to a brother and supported him. I didn’t wallow in upset though.
But I did what I wanted to do – and I am sure it was with her blessing too.
Christmas – I mentioned this a bit earlier – by comparison was spent with my brother and family. It was very much related to my sister-in-law and her family, which really took the emphasis off my Mum. (A year before I had been called to her bedside in intensive care on Christmas Eve – all very dramatic – and told she probably wouldn’t live through the night. So, as you can imagine there was quite a bit of “energy and anticipation” around Christmas!) There was a new grandchild in the family and plenty of extended family in very different surroundings to my normal Xmas ones – and it diverted the attention. A useful ploy that you may find helps…
By all means post a comment below as well. Thank you.
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© Great Guidelines for Later Life 2017. All Rights Reserved.
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Gayle Palmer, the creator of Great Guidelines for Later Life - The world’s most thorough, comprehensive and supportive, one-stop resource for all seniors and their families who are ready to get their lives in order before they die AND help them to live out their days having a life they love, clear in the knowledge that they have done everything they need to. She has developed various courses, programmes and workshops for seniors and their families to work through, leaving no stone un-turned.
Gayle’s experience of over 25 years as an Osteopath, treating thousands of people and helping them through similar worries and concerns only strengthens her knowledge and commitment to you too. Her expertise is not only in the physical realm but emotional, mental and spiritual too. All Rights are Reserved.