Sunday, November 27, 2016

Attending weddings, funerals, events after your child's death

Attending weddings, funerals, and special events after the death of your child can be very traumatic for the first year.

I remember two months after my daughter died in a car accident, a dear friend’s son was getting married and I was invited. I agonized for weeks about what I should do. On the one hand, I didn’t want to disappoint my friend, but on the other hand, I didn’t think I could make it through the ceremony without breaking down. You see, my daughter had gotten married five months prior to her death and those wonderful memories lingered in my mind and heart. If I were to see the bride coming down the aisle, would I be able to hold it together or would I think about my daughter’s wedding and be heartbroken?

I finally made a decision. I had to do what felt right for me. Everyone is different. I wanted to go to the wedding, but I just couldn’t. I had to call my friend and explain the circumstances. I thought it would be difficult, but she was very understanding and said she wondered what I would do, didn’t want to interfere, and left the decision up to me. I bought her son a very nice wedding gift, visited him when he got back from his honeymoon and hoped that would suffice. My friend told me her son understood. As time goes on, it does get better.

Attending a funeral of a relative or friend or one of their children is no different as far as emotions are concerned. Again, my mind reverts back to my daughter’s funeral. Many, many people attended, but truthfully, I didn’t see any of them. I was just thinking of what had happened so suddenly. The finality of it astounded me. I would never see her again. How could this have happened to my beautiful child? Children are not supposed to die before their parents.

Depending on when the funeral is (more than a year out is less taxing) and how close I am to the parents or child was one of the decisions as to whether or not I went that first year. I could send heartfelt condolences or offer to send food or flowers to their house if I didn’t feel I could handle going to the service and/or cemetery. 

Unfortunately, there were situations within that first year or so where I knew I must attend to show support and compassion for those grieving. I didn’t have to stay long, just acknowledge and express sympathy to the family and give them all a big hug. After all, I know only too well how I felt during that time in my life. If it is the same cemetery as where my daughter is buried, I use it as a reason to visit her grave. As long as I honored the life and memory of the one who died by attending, I think they understood if my emotions got the better of me and I started crying. Know that there did come a time when I was ready and at peace with these situations, but it does take a lot of grief work and you must do what, in your heart, is best for you.

I remember attending a few special events held for my daughter by her friends months afterwards. This was one area I felt I couldn’t bow out of with any kind of excuse. And to be truthful, I wanted to go to hear what others had to say about her. They were wonderful stories about her life and friendships, some of which I was not even aware. Yes, they tugged at my heart, but I was so proud to know how important she was to others.

We will all at some time in our life, lose someone we love dearly, and there is no way to avoid that. Trust your grief skills to get you through any situation. A loved one may be gone too soon from our lives but never, never from our hearts.

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