If you have made it to midlife, you know what it means to lose someone you love. April 17th would have been my younger brother’s 59th birthday. Every year, on that day, I am reminded that there is a very noticeable gap between my youngest brother and myself. David died from the same disease that took our dad, heart disease. Of course, he was not the first death I’d experienced. I have buried both of my parents, two grandmothers, and a beloved aunt. But this is different. David and I were born 11 months apart. I told people we were twins because between April and June, our respective birth months, we were the same age.
David was the balance between my youngest brother and me, he was calm, funny, a gifted artist who loved comic books, sci-fi, and he was the first tech nerd I ever knew. As the pandemic rages around us, my heart goes out to the families who will celebrate their own anniversaries of loss next year. Let me share with you three ways that I have found to get through the day.
- Cry: This is not the day to stay in control of your emotions; if you feel like crying, let the waterworks go. If possible, don’t spend the whole day crying that can be so draining. Deal with your emotions unapologetically.
- Do something in remembrance: My brother and I shared a love of all things sci-fi. This year I watched the new Picard series in his honor. You will never forget the person you lost, you can “empower yourself by proactively anticipating the anniversary and incorporating his or her memory into your plans.”
- Connect with others, the first couple of years after David passed away, I admit I shut myself off, worked long hours, or busied myself with my kids. This year, I shared with them how I was feeling, told stories about when we were growing up, and how I would fight anyone who tried to bully him. Sharing with them helped me to remember David and gave them some insight on our childhood, a topic they tell me I don’t share enough. My daughter-in-law dropped off a nice bottle of wine, and chocolates her kindness gave me a new memory to add to this anniversary. On your anniversary, connect with others, share stories and memories. Start a new tradition to honor your loved one and celebrate their contribution to you and to the world.
Grief is one of those emotions that never really goes away, a smell, a song, a photo can bring back all the raw feelings of loss. Take the time to care for yourself and tap into your inner strength. Take a long walk, write your thoughts in a journal, take a yoga class, or talk to a therapist or coach, don’t suffer in silence. That is the one thing I am sure your loved one would not want you to do.
With Love and Peace,
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