I will never forget how difficult it was to get through all the special occasions after my husband died. There were just so many “firsts,” whether it was Thanksgiving, Christmas, new babies being born, and yes, Memorial Day. Whatever the occasion was, it was hard. What I learned from that was you just have to do what you need to do to get yourself through it.
For example, it had been our tradition to drive 50 miles away to the cemetery where my husband’s family graves were. We did that every single year, rain or shine, but on that first Memorial Day after his passing, I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t go, so I decided to leave town. I went and visited my son in GA, and that was my excuse for not being there when they had the gun salute and played taps over his grave. I was there in my heart, of course, but on that particular holiday the only way I could deal with it was by being 1500 miles away.
Little by little, I began to understand you just have to do what you need to do to work through those difficult occasions. It is part of the healing process, part of learning to accept what is, what we cannot change. How that happens will be different for all of us. There is no right or wrong. The only constant is we always have a choice in how we do it, and that is as it should be.
It’s been almost twenty years now since Neal’s passing, and almost that long since I lost my parents. I’ve “picked up the pieces and moved on,” as the old expression goes, yet even now, even when I think I’ve “dealt with it,” every great once in a while something comes along and the floodgate opens. So I don’t know if we ever truly “bring closure” to such a loss, but this much I can promise – eventually we do reach the point where our loss become less consuming and we are able to more easily move on with our lives.
Updated: July 4, 2013