It’s just another day on the calendar for most people, but for me July 31st will always be thought of as Daddy’s birthday!
Since experiencing the loss of my dad ten years ago, I’m realizing how the celebration of one’s life goes well beyond that person’s lifetime. It never just ends with their memorial service.
In Matthew 5:4 we read: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Yes, God does bring about solace over time as we grieve. Although we feel like the crushing waves of mourning will never end, by God’s grace they do subside. Nothing speaks to us during times of loss like comforting words from Scripture and prayer time with the Lord. It’s also great that God can bring about consolation through very doable means that may be at your fingertips right now.
Some Practical Ways to Work Through the Grieving Process:
Isn’t it great to have photos of family members and friends as well as all the fun events shared together over the years? My youngest sister recently texted a photo to me. The photo was taken 30 years ago of our dad and us on a trip in California when I was in high school. Even though I cannot remember the exact circumstances surrounding that event, it was so great for me to see the expression on my dad’s face in that photo. When a loved one has been deceased for a length of time—oh, how we miss seeing their smile! Who knew that silly picture of us donning our swimsuits and big “80’s hair” would bring comfort to us now.
There are several ways you can put together a memory book of a loved one. The “old school” way is to put together several written memories about your loved one. These might include funny things that happened or interesting statements made years ago. Another similar method is to chronicle the deceased person’s life through photos. I made myself a photo book of the last week I spent with my dad before he died. Even though these photos show him with obvious signs of illness, it’s a special memory book for me since it was the last time we spent together on this earth.
Quite a few years ago, I went through a particularly difficult time. And wouldn’t you know, my dad was the person who came to my rescue! One thing he advised me while I was in such a broken state of emotions was to read one chapter in Psalm and one chapter in Proverbs every day. He said an easy way to do that was to pick the chapter of that day on the calendar, meaning to read Psalm 25 on the 25th day of the month and so on. I thought of that advice today, on my dad’s birthday, as I was feeling weepy about his passing. God often comforts us through His Word. Reading favorite scriptures of loved ones can also bring us peace and great memories of the times they shared it with us.
This one has been a fun memory item to remember my dad. Over the years since my son was old enough to understand, I have tried to share with him some of the favorite things my dad enjoyed eating. And interestingly enough, many of these items are my son’s favorites as well! One preferred dessert my dad enjoyed so much was cherry pie! And with his birthday being in July, it was a great season for it. This weekend at our house I will be make a homemade cherry pie in honor of my dad! I so wish he were here to enjoy a slice of it with us!
These are simply objects to help commemorate loved ones or special events. I’ve heard of people planting trees or other plants in memory of their deceased family members. My dad died after a very long off-and-on battle with cancer, so each year I have sent a donation in his memory to cancer research. But any type of celebratory act that is specific to your loved ones will bring joy in thinking about them throughout the years.
And then there are dreams. Of course, you can’t manufacture dreams you have of your loved one. But through occasional dreams at night, I can still picture my dad from my memories of him. Usually in these dreams, he looks very much like he did when I was growing up—well before his body showed the devastating effects of disease. During these nighttime “mind movies,” I’m able to remember the days when my dad was able to walk around briskly, laughing and talking with everyone he met along the way. This somehow also brings happiness and comfort to me.
Whichever method works for you to savor your memories, take time to cherish those who have gone on before you. Share special fun memories of them with your children and grandchildren. These kinds of conversations will keep memories alive for years to come!