No matter how much you try not to think about it, you dread the day your loved one died. It’s especially hard, those first couple of anniversaries. Perhaps you spent years caregiving and you’re dealing with the void in your life. Perhaps it was sudden and you feel as if the bottom fell out of your life. It feels as if you’re going to get physically ill, dreading this day.

Even years later, a dear friend of mine wonders what’s wrong with her come late May, early June. I remind her that’s when her father died. He commited suicide and took the life of her step-mother as well. No wonder everything in her repels this awful day. Who would want to remember? Once I remind her, she can relax. Her anxiety has a reason for being there, and that fact alone is ironically comforting.

My friend has learned to let grief wash over her. Once she recognizes it, she lets it be a part of her again. She knows it will pass, but she also knows that fighting it will only make it worse.

But your body does whether you do or not. Our bodies have “muscle memory.” Just like poison ivy, grief and sorrow gets in your system and comes full circle the time of year your loved one died. You have to give into the grief.

How do you get through that death date?

Everyone has a different way of dealing, so find what works for you. Here are a few suggestions to consider.

Instead of avoiding, give in. Have a day to cry, to grieve, to remember your loss. Write your loved one a letter. Write them a angry letter if you need to. Perhaps you’ve put off facing the fact that you are angry and hurt. Maybe not at them, but that they left you with so much to deal with. Maybe you are furious with them, some left over business. So be furious. Write that letter. Stay home that day and yell at them and finally have it out.

Trust your gut. Whatever you need to do, do it.

For others, it’s a bittersweet time. Get out those photos and say goodbye all over again. The day your loved one died or the day of their funeral or memorial service may have been such a shock that you were out of it. You could have been so nervouc, so zoned out, so medicated that you didn’t “feel” your grief the first time around. So do it again. Have you day to say goodbye. Visit the memorial gardens or place you spread their ashes–or create a new place for you to go. Make “right” on saying goodbye to your loved one.

Or maybe you need to avoid. Running feels right, and I won’t tell you not to. Eventually, yes, you’ll have to face all this–but you’ll know when. It may hit you one day and you can no longer avoid upir sorrow. Until then, do what you have to do. Yes, it’s healing to face our grief, but we’re all on different times.

Death dates get easier. Maybe not sequentially–you might have good anniversarie and bad anniversaries. But you will come to a place where you can breathe again.

~Carol O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother

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Carol O'Dell

Carol D. O'Dell's gripping memoir MOTHERING MOTHER, (April 1, 2007 by Kunati Publishing) is for the "sandwich" generation and overflows with humor, grace and much needed honesty. Written with wit and sensitivity, Mothering Mother offers insight on how to not only survive but thrive the challenges of caring for others while keeping your life, heart, and dreams intact. Carol is an inspirational speaker and instructor focusing on caregiving, spirituality and adoption issues. She has been featured on numerous television, radio and magazine and podcast programs including WEDU/PBS, Artist First Radio, "Coping with Caregiving" national radio, Women's Digest and Mature Matters Publications. Her fiction and nonfiction work has appeared in numerous publications including Atlanta Magazine, Southern Revival, MARGIN, and AIM, America's Intercultural Magazine Carol appeared on the radio show "Healing the Grieving Heart" with Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley to discuss "Mothering Mother: A Daughter's Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir." To hear Carol being interviewed on this show, click on the following link:

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