I’m starting this week’s blog with a disclaimer. There is no right or wrong way to honor someone’s passing, to remember someone on the day they passed, or to celebrate the day that they entered heaven. Everyone does this differently and I really don’t feel like there is anybody out there that can tell you whether you’re doing that right or wrong. So, this week I don’t have advice for you on how to commemorate a day that is so significant, but also so fragile. Instead, I’m going to be open with you about why this day is something that I struggle with.
I’ve only dealt with this day twice now. Last year, August 15 2019, was the one year anniversary of Will’s passing and this year, August 15 2020, is the second anniversary. This topic is especially hard for me, but not for the reasons you may think. This is an emotional day for me and my family, but that is not necessarily the reason that this specific topic is so difficult. It is difficult to cover this topic, because it is so incredibly hard to put into words what this day is, what it means to me, and what it means for others in Will’s life. It’s also difficult for me to express the importance of this day in words, because I want to remember the impact that my words can have on other people and I want to make sure that what I say doesn’t take away from Will’s impact on this earth.
All of that being said, I’ve never known what to call this day. Is this an anniversary? Is it a celebration? Is it a day of remembrance? None of those things sound like the right thing to call this day, but it feels disrespectful to pretend like this day has no significance, because it does. I imagine that each year will be different, but so far as a widow one of the hardest things I’ve faced is trying to figure out how to properly honor Will while protecting myself and my grief.
As a widow you feel a certain expectation on days like today. People expect to see you sad. People expect to see you grieving. People expect to see you doing something monumental to honor the person that you’ve lost and that they’ve lost. In my specific position as a writer people expect to see this grand piece of writing that I’ve poured my heart and soul into, when in all actuality that’s the last thing that I want to do during this time. I don’t have a desire to remember sitting at Will’s bedside praying and hoping that he would sit up and come home with me. I don’t have a desire to remember walking away from him in the hospital and then walking away from him at his funeral and then walking away from him at his graveside. That’s what this day does to me. This day is a reminder of the hardest 14 days of my life, but I can’t help but feel like there is so much pressure on me to honor Will’s life on this day.
Then sets in a sense of guilt for making this day about me and not him. I don’t know how else to explain it without it sounding selfish, but I’d rather honor Will every other day of the year than this one. So much of that feeling that I have is rooted in the expectation that I feel is on me. The feeling is no one’s fault but my own. As the widow in this situation, I feel an expectation on myself whether people actually expect it or not. So, every year there is this battle in my head of meeting the expectations that I think people have or doing what I need to do to take care of myself and take care of my grief specifically on this day.
I want to be completely transparent with you. Last year on this day, I wrote a Facebook post about Will and then spent most of the day in a pool with some of my closest friends. In my heart I recognized the significance of this day, but I knew that for my grief I needed to be happy. I needed to be surrounded by people that I loved and that loved me, distracted from the reality of what this day meant. Doing something specific to honor or remember Will on this day would have been really sentimental, but that also meant recognizing that I had gone a year, 365 days without him. No matter how much I wanted to just remember how good of a person he was and not remember all of the events that led up to his passing, that is what this day became. It became a day of reliving the worst instead of remembering the best.
This is not what I wanted. I had imagined that this day, this annual day of remembrance or whatever you want to call it, would be spent with my family and his family and would be filled with laughter and sweet memories. Maybe one day that is what this day can be, but not today. Even as a re-married woman, this day is still a reminder of the heartbreaking things that led up to August 15, 2018.
This post is really hard for me, because there’s a lot of guilt behind not wanting to remember. I want to make sure that my position is understood. I remember Will and celebrate his life every day that I live and breathe, but on this day, I choose not to focus on losing him and instead focus on the relationships and the life that I have. If Will were here today he would make every day a celebration, because that’s who he was. Even on the worst days, Will found a way to be happy.
Today I’m spending time with my family and I’m choosing to be happy, despite the emotions and the grief that is incredibly overwhelming during this time. I’ve taken the time to recognize in my heart how grateful I am to have had Will in my life and now I’m choosing to do what he would have done which is make the most of the time that I have left.
Again, I don’t really have advice for you, because as you can see, I clearly don’t have it figured out. I will tell you that if you’re in a position like mine and you don’t know where to start, I’ve found myself doing two things. 1) Do your best to remember the good times, but don’t dwell on what could have or would have been and 2) live the life that you’re given. Go out and do something, especially on days like today, simply because you can.