Is there a right or wrong way to remember lost loved ones?
Is Ritual a useful part of that?
Do you remember the pain or the positive memories?
While Memorial Day was created to remember the brave men and women in our military that were lost in battle, it tends to make us think of any of our lost loved ones, and possible even honor them in some way.
There is no right or wrong here – only your way for your loved ones and what you are comfortable with or what they would have liked. Others’ opinions do not count. Do what feels right.
Ritual is often helpful when remembering someone. Plant a tree. Put flowers on the grave. Hold a spiritual or religious ceremony. Light a candle. Go someplace they loved. Sit on their grave and eat a meal, talking to them. Release a live butterfly or a balloon with a message. Celebrate their birthday. Tell a story. Post some photos of them. Make their favorite meal. Run a race. Help someone in memory of them.
Whatever you do, do it when meaningful to you – on Memorial Day, on their birthday, or on your birthday. On a holiday. On the anniversary of their death (their “angel-versary”). Annually… anytime… or just once.
I’ve done many things, maybe all of the above, in memory of my son Brent, his brother Robbie, and my parents. It changes year to year with time and my mood, and that’s OK. Sometimes I just sit quietly for awhile and try to feel them around me. Sometimes it works. Mediation is helpful, especially if done regularly.
As a frequent social media user, now I post things online with photos as a tribute on significant dates. It makes me feel closer, to see the pictures again, to post them and say something about him. There is some sadness that creeps in but it’s mostly positive memories and feelings now — so grateful that I got to know them for as long as I did, to share experiences with them, to still feel their presence. I love telling stories about them and it makes me feel good when others comment or send their love. It’s a nice way to share them, the funny parts, the good parts. Everyone has some of that to share, regardless of what they went through or how they died. Everyone has something special,or unique.
There is a lot of ritual around Memorial Day. Why not make some of that yours with your loved one, even if they didn’t serve in the military? Ritual makes you feel connected, it feels good… even when it’s a little sad.
Remember the good things, the funny things… the love. Let go of the unpleasant things. They are done.
Forgive. Apologize. Let go. Write it down and burn it to release it.
My remaining son is getting married in just over two weeks. His older brother would have been his Best Man, maybe he still is. He didn’t choose one, just groomsmen. But we toasted Brent on his ‘angel-versary’ and will again at his brother’s wedding, cherishing many happy memories too.
Do a celebration of life on Memorial Days or surrounding any ritual. It’s healing.
Hope you had a lovely Memorial Day weekend and wising you a great kickoff to summer… with love and hope…
…supporting your journey to a new normal.
Barbara J Hopkinson
President & Executive Director