Pushing Up Daisies --- Year of Firsts

by Tracy Renee Lee
Pushing Up Daisies --- Year of Firsts

If you have lost a loved one this past year, this new year will be your year of firsts. It will be your first year without your loved one beside you, your first year to celebrate his/her birthday alone, or perhaps to celebrate an anniversary alone. Whatever your events, you will be doing them without your loved one with you. This fact alone exacerbates the pain of grief, and magnifies feelings of loneliness, anxiousness, fear, and inadequacy. The year of firsts is a year of growth, achievement, and discomfort, because it forces us to restructure our identity.

If you were married, you must now restructure your identity as a widow. If you were a member of a couple, you must now establish yourself as a single person. If you were a child, you must now identify yourself as perhaps an orphan, or a child with only one parent. If you were a parent, you must now adjust to life without your child to rear. Time does not stand still and allow us time to adjust to these new identities. Circumstances, society, and responsibilities thrust these new identities upon us in an instant and we are expected to adjust and move forward very quickly.

As survivors, we do not move on. We are forced to survive within circumstances that are unwelcome, uncomfortable, and unchosen. Life will never be as it once was, it will never be okay. Life will move-on carrying us along with it as it moves us through one experience to another. Initially, many of these experiences will not be remembered. That’s okay because our minds are protecting us from the reality of our pain. Without this blessing, the stress and pain from our grief would cause our deaths.

Although we would rather not face our new reality, the sooner we get on with it, the better. If we delay our grief, we run the risk of serious psychological complications. Denial is best thrown out with the trash.

Our coping skills and recovery skills are directly related to our past experiences with loss. It is incumbent upon us to revisit past losses and how we overcame them. Of course, death is the ultimate loss experience, but those smaller losses in life will have prepared us for this big one we now face.

As your moments of firsts come along this year, it is sometimes a good idea to ask others to help you through them. I had a dear friend who lost her husband after 67 years of marriage. For their first anniversary without each other, she hosted a huge anniversary dinner. I was a little apprehensive upon receiving the invitation but decided to attend. When my husband and I arrived, I saw that she had invited her close friends, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, church family, etc. If I recall correctly, there were well over 250 people there. All of us in attendance knew and loved her as a married woman, and together, we spent an evening of joy and remembrances of her time spent with the man she loved. It was a beautiful evening and one that I have remembered for well over 30 years. My dear friend showed me how to actively affect personal healing. She knew that her family was concerned for her wellbeing, so she invited them to help her through the most miserable anniversary she would ever experience: her first one as a widow.

There is no shame in asking for assistance through grief. In fact, asking for assistance is a very mature and sensible thing to do. Your friends and family are concerned for you. They are not only willing to assist you, they want to assist you, but they most likely do not know what to do to help. Do like my dear friend and reach out to them and invite them to be there with you through this year of firsts. They will benefit from your candor as you benefit from their love and support.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a Certified Grief Counselor (GC-C), Funeral Director (FDIC), published author, syndicated columnist, Podcaster, and founder of the “Mikey Joe Children’s Memorial” and Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, Podcasts, and Grief BRIEFs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.

It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

For additional encouragement, please visit my podcast “Deadline” at https://open.spotify.com/show/7MHPy4ctu9OLvdp2JzQsAA or at https://anchor.fm/tracy874 and follow me on Instagram at "Deadline_TracyLee".