repost from jennylynn.ca on March 18, 2021
Today would have been my dad’s 75th birthday, and I never thought I would miss him as much as I do. When our loved ones are here, you take their present for granted, and think there will be loads of time to spend with them. You get busy with your own life, and when you no longer have that presence, you wish you could just say one more thing to them, or spend time with them.
I struggled for the first year after my dad’s passing. I was trying to figure out how to bring him back into my life, even though he could never physically could be there.
I realized that by bringing in the traditions he brought into our family, and some of the moments that we shared, I could honour him and our relationship.
With COVID in our midst, many people who are loosing loved ones are struggling with how to honour their loved ones, until we can once again gather together.
We have the need to gather, because of that connection and the bond of knowing that person we grieve. Words do not need to be spoken, it is the support of that person being present to honour our loved one we miss so dearly.
Working through grief, while honouring loved ones
1. Visiting those special spots
The day after my dad died, I headed to Goderich, Ontario, a pretty town that my dad went to many times to hike its trails or walk along the lakeside on the boardwalk.
I hated every moment when I was there and that he wasn’t able to join me. I felt guilty that he wasn’t able to visit the places he enjoyed, but I could.
Time has allowed me to understand, that they would still want us to enjoy those places, and to remember the good times we spent together.
2. Making those decadent goodies or savoury meals
Making foods that were part of my dad’s heritage, became a big way for me to honour him. He is Polish, and pierogies were one way to bring a part of him and my grandparents into our holiday gatherings.
My nanny, my moms mom, she made the most amazing desert foods. I love to make her oatmeal cookies, or chocolate haystacks. They are such a favourite in our family, and when we miss her, out comes rolling pin and cookbook.
3. Flipping through the Photos or Talking About The Memories
Every now and then, I flip through my phone, and remember the times my dad spent with my kids and I. Or I will be spring cleaning, and I find photo albums or envelopes of photos containing fun times.
The typical photo of my nanny would be when she was sticking her tongue out, my dad hiking, or nanny and poppa lighting up the dance floor having one helluva good time.
I gotta say, who doesn’t love a good memory that comes up, to reminisce with your mom, kids, friends or siblings.
My favourite moment of my nanny was when she was quite tipsy up at the trailer, she kept saying delissioso about my moms lasagna soup(it wasn’t supposed to be soup), and sliding right off the couch.
How about those stone picking times, having a warm jelly sandwich, and warm milk in a pickle jar, right after walking in that hot weather, and your grandma’s eyes that were supposed to have been failing her, but spotted a pebble a mile away. Or, howabout, wicking all those mustard weeds, when you were only 5. These are memories that make us laugh now, and are stories that have weaved their way into of our family web.
4. Planting a tree or memorial donation
Our family has a tree planted at the local conversation area that my dad would hike quite a bit. He was passionate about his walking, and this was a great way to recognize his passions in life.
My mom also makes annual donation on the anniversary of his death to the local conservation to help with the upkeep on those trails he walked.
This is a simple way to keep your loved ones passion alive, and allowing others to enjoy as well.
5. Writing a letter
I know, they’ve passed away, and can’t read it physically. This is a great way to let go of those words you are keeping in your heart and head, this is a form of journalling.
We clutter up our minds, and tend to bury our emotions deep, writing helps release your burdens, fears, troubles and sadness. Writing also allows us to release stress and anxiety, and helps us to organize our thoughts.
Honour your loved one, your way
Remember that the grieving process takes time. We don’t follow the same path as someone else.
You will have good days, and some bad days.
Be gentle on yourself. Be kind to yourself.
One day the memories that were hard, will bring you comfort.
This first blog post is a gift to my dad, a way to honour the man I love and miss. It’s been over 8 and a half since we last had our sleep over in the hospital, I will never forget, and am glad we had that time together.
Happy Birthday, dad!