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I am just 10 days away from the one year mark of my wife's death,and the last few days have been horrible. I have that all familiar pit in my stomach and I have a hard time concentrating on anything. All I would love to do is to go to sleep for those 10 days and wake up afterwards. I know that in this journey I am going to take some steps backwards and believe me the backwards steps are not as severe as in the begining, but I just can't stand feeling this way.

Derek

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Derek,

I wish there were something I could say or do to help you through this time. Please accept a hug and my prayers will be with you. Hang in there, you will get through it.

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My dear Derek,

I’m sure you know from reading other posts in this forum that many people find death-date anniversaries difficult, since they serve as such potent reminders of all that we have lost. Keep in mind, however, that in many ways, this day will be no more (or less) difficult to get through than any other day you’ve had to face since Karen died. Anniversary dates are really no more than dates on a calendar, and they hold no more power over us than we are willing to give them. More often than not, many people find that the anticipation of the day is far worse than the actual day itself.

Like everything else in grief, you can choose to deal with what you’re dreading by avoiding it all together, or by facing it head-on, holding the firm belief that you’ve made it through this far, and you will make it through this, too. (Some mourners decide to think of this first-year-anniversary date as an “expected event” that can be understood as a rite of passage, a turning point, or a marker for a change in attitude, setting you free from that very difficult first year.) I happen to think that the worst thing you can do is to let this day sneak up on you without planning for it ahead of time. I encourage you to develop some sort of strategy that includes a Plan A and a Plan B. Whatever you plan to do with the day is completely up to you (even if you plan intentionally to do nothing at all – but at least that is your plan). You might consider involving Carson in your plans – children this age can be so creative in their ideas! You could say to him, for example, that a very special day is coming up, a day of remembrance for Mommy, and the two of you need to think of some special things you can do to remember Mommy on that day.

I want to share with you some lovely ideas offered by Harold Ivan Smith, a dear man, prolific writer, teacher, storyteller, grief counselor and teacher, who is often featured as the keynote speaker at national grief conferences and workshops. The following ideas come from a wonderful presentation he gave here in Phoenix last December:

Borrow from a Jewish tradition called a yahrzeit (pronounced yard-site) ceremony, which is a ceremonial way of acknowledging the anniversary of a death. Some Jews go to a synagogue or temple to recite a prayer, but in addition, they remind themselves of the loved one who has died by burning a 24-hour-candle in the hours leading up to the anniversary. (Yahrzeit memorial candles are sold in Jewish religious supply stores, but you can also find them in the Kosher section of the grocery store. They’re encased in metal, they cost less than a dollar, and they burn for 26 hours. If you’re concerned about leaving a candle burning overnight or when you’re not in the room, Harold Ivan suggests that you place the candle in water in the kitchen sink.)

Write a letter to your beloved, beginning with how you’ve been doing since her death. Then,

•Write about what you miss most

•Write about any regrets you have in your relationship

•Write anything you wish you had said prior to the death

•Write what you wish you your loved one had said to you

•Describe how you are coping, what makes you laugh and cry now

•Close with any personal message you would like to include

•Describe one of your favorite holiday / special day memories

Take the letter you write to your loved one’s grave site (or some other special place) to be read aloud, then burn it in your fireplace or BBQ grill.

Then, write a letter from your loved one back to you. Ask yourself, How would she answer you? Fold her letter into a small enough size that when you put it into a box it will rattle. Then wrap it as a gift and, when you need it, rattle it – so you’ll know it’s a gift from your beloved.

Arrange for Jews to say Kaddish (e.g., Say Kaddish is an online service that arranges Kaddish to be said, according to tradition, on behalf of whomever you choose, at www.saykaddish.com

Symbolize - Light a candle for hope, for remembrance (You can do so online, at Light a Candle ~ Online Memorial Ritual)

Other ideas that can be used (on birthdays and holidays, too):

•Send off balloons

•Set a place at the table for your loved one that day

•Light a special candle and share a memory of the person

•Tell stories of the person; invite others to do this before a meal, before gift-opening, etc.

•Sing, listen to a favorite song about the deceased

•Create an ornament to hang on a tree, a wreath or the wall

•Visit a special place that holds memories of your loved one; if you cannot tolerate staying for an entire meal, go for coffee or dessert

•Write a letter to your loved one. Consider reading it to someone else

•Create a Web site to honor your loved one. (You can ask the family computer “nerd” to do this for you)

•Buy your loved one a present and donate it to a charity, as “a gift from [the person who died]”

•Make your loved one’s favorite meal or dessert

•Plant a tree, bush, or flower

•Say a special prayer

•Make a quilt with the clothing of your loved one

•Change old traditions and begin new ones

•Place a memoriam notice in the newspaper

•Burn a CD of your loved one’s favorite music

•Sponsor a cultural event during the season in your loved one’s name

•Create a memory book

•Donate to / volunteer for a special cause in your loved one’s name

•Find a way to give something to someone else

•Celebrate as you can – not as you can’t!

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Marty,

Thank you for the wonderful ideas, there are some in there that I hadn't thought of. I am planning to plant a tree in the back yard on that day and I am keeping Carson out of school that day so that we can spend it together. Thanks again for your ideas. I know like what I have experienced in the past that the days leading up to this day are usually worse than the day itself. I will be keeping Carson and I busy that day so it will go by quickly.

Derek

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Derek,

I haven't reached that bump in the road yet. It's still a little over 2 months away (the one year mark) that I lost my Mom. I agree, Derek, sometimes you just feel like you are almost right back at the biginning. I think it's a good idea that you are going to keep Carson home from school. You can try and celebrate her life together instead of remember her death. I know Karen is so very proud of both of you. Remember, she is always with you and Carson. I'm sending you a special prayer.

Missing my Mom,

Trudy

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Hi Derek, I'm sorry to hear you're having a rough time. I just passed the 1 year mark on March 5th. The month before so was very very hard. You think you're doing "okay" and then wham!! Honestly, the anticipation was worse than the actual day. What actually got me the worse was the day before March 5th because it was a Sunday which was the day Josh died last year. So it felt the same... Paul wrote a wonderful post recently about some ideas on how to approach these anniversaries. I'll look for it and add the link. And I had hoped it would magically all be okay now that I've passed the 1 year mark, and it isn't. It is a billion times better than last year now but it's never going to be "okay" that our loved one died. Well, sorry to ramble but you're in my thoughts during this painful time. Many hugs, Kelly

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Dear Derek, i am praying for you that the day will not be as bad as you think. i believe that God will give you the strength to get through this. i think it is a good thing that you and Carson will spend the day together. that day is also my moms birthday. we have planned a trip to Washington, DC so i won't be home on her birthday. i plan on going to Good Friday services there. Know that Karen is with you and always will be. May God hold you in the palm of his hands. Lori

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Marty, Your suggestions are wonderful, I wish I would have had those ideas when I went through my "anniversaries" of death...but it's never too late, and they are a good idea whether it's the anniversary or not. Writing has helped me a lot, I still have my "letters to George" file on my computer, and I add to it as I need to. I've also done art work depicting how I feel, how I want to feel, etc. as a way of expressing myself and letting out feelings and also seeing where I want to go in my life.

We appreciate all of your input here and it's good to know you are there watching out for all of us. :)

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Derek,

I hope things will not be as hard as you anticipate. I will be keeping you and Carson in my thoughts and prayers. I think the ideas Marty posted are lovely ways of spending a wonderful day in memory of our lost loved ones. I will have to keep those ideas in mind when my one year comes.

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Derek

I am dreading my anniversary and it's not until June 18. One thing we did at our grief support group when it ended was to write a message to the one we lost on the balloon and then set it free. Your son might enjoy doing that - just a suggestion. I'll be keeping you both in my prayers - love jane

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Derek, sending prayers and hugs your way. I wish none of us had a date to mark on a calendar. It truely is the hardest journey anyone has to take. For me the first year mark was more anxiety about the anticipation...like I thought something was going to change that day. I am nearing my second year mark and plan to do something Gene would have enjoyed doing. I'm just going to get up and do it. You're a wonderful father. Carson will always have you and Karen as part of his life. Look to Carson and you will find Karen there. I look to my children and grandchildren. It doesn't lesson the pain but reminds me that so much of Gene remains in each of them...a look, a little sneeze, something that is there...something that brings a smile along with the heartache. Wishing you peace as the days go by.

Always Gene!

Always!

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