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A rosemary plant in a pot that I decorated to honor John’s life.

I must admit that I am relieved that the holidays are over. Even before I lost two babies and an adult son, the holidays were very difficult. My mother always strived for the perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas, which caused much stress and anxiety in our family. The hectic pace of Christmas became too much for me the older I became. As a child I did not mind celebrating Christmas Eve and then awaking early the next morning for another full and hectic day of celebrating. The older I became, the more difficult and unenjoyable this became; however, I have to say that the Christmas of 1987 was wonderful because my first child, John, was born on the 22nd of that month.

December became even more difficult in 1996 when on the 11th of that month my baby son, Ricky, crossed over due to miscarriage. After that the month of December was so unbearable that I would usually end up in the hospital during the holidays.

Since John crossed over I have learned ways in which I can honor my children and my grief; thus making the holidays much more pleasurable. The first holidays after John crossed over I really did not do too much. I spent the holidays at my ex-husband Bryce’s house with our son Christian. They ended up being the best holidays I ever had. It was the three of us alone, quietly opening presents, cooking and enjoying our Christmas dinner. It was then that I decided that my holidays would always be quiet from then on. I will either stay home quietly or merely enjoy the three of us. This has helped me tremendously and I do not dread the month of December as much as I used to.

I have also found various activities to do on the significant dates pertaining to my children who have crossed over. I began doing this on the first anniversary of John’s transition, May 11. I realized that on that first year mark the worst thing I could do was to stay home alone and think. I knew I would be an hysterical basket case so I came up with a plan. I decided to take a road trip to a cafe in the town which was John’s last place of residence. In his goodbye e-mail to me, John told me that if I should ever get up that way (he knew I would need to pick up his belongings), to stop at this cafe and have a vanilla fig latte because he knew I would love it.

On May 11, 2015 my son, Christian, my middle sister and I took a three hour road trip and honored John by having vanilla fig lattes. We had so much fun and I actually enjoyed the day. I was so impressed that I did so well and I did not even cry, so I decided to make this a yearly event. Last year my son Christian could not join us but my sister and I went. We decided to take the back roads and stopped in a couple small and quaint towns. We had lunch at the cafe and talked all the way through the car ride, there and back. Again, it was a wonderful time and helped me deal with my grief.

That first year went so well that I decided I would do this to honor Tina and Ricky on the anniversaries of their crossing over, which are August 15 and December 11, respectively. On August 15, 2015 I went to the park and released blue balloons with Tina’s name on it and the date of her transition. I love the park and sat around in the beauty of nature for awhile. This did wonders in assisting me to get through the day.

On the left is a memory necklace I made for myself to honor John. On the right is a memory bracelet to remember all three of my children who crossed over. It was made for me by another grieving mom who has a charity in which she makes free bracelets for grieving mothers. The name of the charity is Auntie’s Angels, which you can find on Facebook.

On December 11, 2015 I again went to the same park and released balloons for Ricky’s anniversary with his name and transition date. It is my very favorite park because it is left in its natural state as much as possible. Thankfully the weather was nice enough to do this.

This past year I had a blog in which I channeled both Tina and Ricky on their anniversaries so they could write a blog post. Ricky’s date this year was very cold and snowy so going to the park was out of the question.

Ever since John was a child, we would make a pot of tea before bed and have a snack. This carried on through out his life. When he became an adult I always had a pot of tea ready when he came for a visit. We both love tea and are quite the connoisseurs. About four years ago John brought me French macrons for Mother’s Day and I have been addicted ever since. Now on John’s birthday I buy French macrons and make a pot of tea to celebrate his birthday. I not only look forward to this, but this helps to get through this day also.

Although there are some who believe these activities are indications of not accepting your “loss” and “moving on” (whatever that means), I disagree. We all grieve differently. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no time limit to grief and every grieving parent will tell you that parental grief never ends. If honoring your loved ones who have crossed over with some activity on their significant dates helps you with your grief, then by all means, you should do that. If it is more helpful for you not to do something in honor of the day, then by all means, do not do anything. Do not let anyone else try to control how you grieve. Only you know what you need to do help yourself. No one else does.

I am not saying that there are not warning signs which would indicate complicated grief. There are signs but honoring the significant dates or wanting to talk about your loved ones are definitely not them. If a significant amount of time has passed and you still are not living your life, that is a warning sign. Your life will never be the same again and you may never be the same again; however, we must begin to live our “new” lives at some point. If you are in a constant state of depression after a significant amount time, this, also, is a warning sign of complicated grief. I am no expert, other than the fact that I am a grieving mother, and I am sure there are more signs; however, it is not the point of this blog post.

Feel free to do what you must to cope with your grief and heal. Talk about your loved one without concern about who it may make uncomfortable. Honor or do not honor the significant dates. Be angry, be sad, cry, etc. These are perfectly acceptable and we must do what we need to do to heal. I wish I had realized this when Tina and Ricky crossed over. Maybe my depression would not have been so severe and it would have saved on a whole lot of medical bills. – Michelle

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