Yesterday was my 25th wedding anniversary; a day that should have been encompassed with an encore of romance and bliss with my husband. Instead, my turbulent kaleidoscope of widowhood emotions was running the gamut. One moment I wanted to escape and flee with no destination in mind except to forget what day it was. The next, I desired to epitomize and shout jubilantly with joy and thanksgiving how blessed I was to have been married to such an authentic, gallant, man of integrity. On the other hand, I felt emaciated, withered and just wanted to hibernate, be left alone and weep in the fetal position. How have you survived your wedding anniversaries without your husband?

After several hours of crying, I decided instead to bolster my spirit.  As I again visited and adorned my husband’s grave, the etched, treasured memories of our life together as a family swirled in my head. While wiping the residue from his gravestone, I began my ceremonial litany of prayers and praising. Encapsulating and celebrating all the qualities that I admired about my husband and expressing my reverence to God.

Just as each of us is uniquely designed and the circumstances of our husbands’ deaths are all dissimilar and varied, our grief walk is full of similar twists and turns; yet, distinctively diverse. As a result, we process our mourning in divergent and intricate ways. I believe each of us has an innate insight into what we need. Please do not let others dictate how you should respond. Do not stifle or hedge yourself in.

Below are some suggestions that can be implemented on anniversaries to honor your husband, yourself and your everlasting love. Not that I have all the answers, as I muddle in my own garbled way through this grief journey. However, the following ideas have been therapeutic for me and I thought they might be beneficial for you…

  1. Allow yourself to have “remembering tears,” as I call them. Have a good cry, scream, rant. Grief should not be silent or repressed. Give yourself permission to articulate your sorrow.
  2. Organize a remembrance service- formal or informal, with just you or gather together family and friends. It could be traditional or non-traditional, incorporating music and/or silence, liturgy, a collection of memories, or add something that symbolizes and exemplifies your husband and your marriage.
  3. Tap into your creative side and write a tribute letter about your husband- just for yourself or to share with other loved ones who are also grieving for your husband. If you pass it on, ask each person to add their affirmations and recollections about your husband and return it back to you.
  4. Spend time in your safe spot; a place that soothes and nourishes your soul. Possibly return to a destination that evokes cherished, idyllic memories of you and your husband.
  5. Do something tangible and cleansing: participate in an activity, pay-it-forward, volunteer, or do a service project.
  6. Throw a survival party. A milestone has occurred. Even though it might not feel like it, you are a warrior, a survivor. You have endured a loss and you are transitioning, evolving, and growing. Bring together others who have supported and nurtured your heart. If not in person, this could even be facilitated virtually through Skype or Facebook.

That evening upon returning home from visiting my husband’s grave, our adorable; but, overly frisky cat, Happy, jumped from my desk onto my back. Doing so, she knocked over a notecard that a friend had written the following on: “Place your hand on your heart or any other part of your body that seems to be in distress, breathe into that area. Tell yourself: Peace, be still, I am alive, I can survive!”

However you choose to embrace, observe and commemorate your anniversary, my hope is that you will explore cathartic ways to elevate, inspire, foster, and lift yourself up.

Blessings and Peace to You,

Lisa Dempsey Bargewell

My blog topic for next Wednesday: I Believe In Miracles