July 8, 2020
Dealing with "Those Days" when the Lights Go Out
July 24, April 2, December 25, February 14... and then there's Easter, Thanksgiving, and the beginning of school...
All these dates...
And a host of others that just show up out of nowhere.
When you grieve over the death of your loved one, you must deal with those special days. And trust me... It is not easy. (And as I have said before, not every one deals the same.) Some people choose to work on those days (Me! Me! Me!) Some people don't want to be around anyone else on those days. Some people want to be close to family on those days. We all have differences, but we all must face those days.
I am not a person who has a special ritual for any of these days. I do love pretty flowers on Andrew's grave, but I don't have a bench by his grave to sit and ponder. I have friends who do this, and that is their way to cope. I'll never forget a few years back, I was talking to Ray's Aunt Becky Guy; and she said, "Sarah... I thought I was seeing ghosts in the graveyard the other night. Why do you have solar lights on Andrew's grave?" Well... I didn't. A friend had them on her son's grave. Andrew's grave is not far from his in the same cemetery. I don't normally do Christmas trees, but I do my best to have seasonal flowers. I go by and see them, take pictures of them, and that's about all I do at the cemetery.
However some of my friends spend many hours visiting with their loved ones at the cemetery, and if that brings them comfort, I say, "Leave them be!" I have other friends who tell me they never go to the cemetery. Again... "Leave them be!" We are not the same.
How we deal with those special days is different, so I can only share with you my experiences. For me, it varies from year-to-year. Some years, I take the time to sit and look through photos, letters, books, yearbooks, cards... and some years I do not even open a book. How I deal with those special days from year-to-year does not diminish my love for my child.
Usually for Andrew's birthday, I make a post on FaceBook, and that is about it. (Until this year, I decided to write a book.) On his death date, I do the same. I try to have new flowers on his grave for both of these months, but other than that, I really don't say much to anyone. One day of reading my friends' love poured out is about all my tear ducts can take.
For Christmas, I have a personal tradition of buying a gift or gifts for some unsuspecting child/boy/man about the same age as Andrew was when he died and then maybe about the age he is now. I don't make a big deal about it, and most of the time no one even knows. But I know. These holidays are hard enough when I think about his absence, so I don't personally focus on it.
Now, it never bothers me for others to talk about him on his special days. I may tear up, but that is due to my extreme love of this child of mine. But I do try to stop myself from falling into depression over his loss.
Those days are tricky, because if you do not watch, you will find yourself sinking. Once you have sunk into depression, it's a long climb back out. So, I try to limit my grieving time during these days. I allow myself to get out my good cry, then I get busy.
But let me encourage the grieving soul today. Please do not refuse to have happiness on these special days in your life, even on the death days. And let me tell you something... God really wanted to get that through my head. I had "tabooed" April 2 forever into infinity and beyond throughout the past 20 years. Then two years ago... God decided I needed to rethink April 2nd.
Our 2nd grandson, Gideon Emmitt Odom was born on ... you guessed it... April 2nd! (With a butterfly from the hospital as his name announcement on the hospital wall.) Well, I was so happy for this child, but I still was determined I really didn't like April 2nd. I'd just be happy for Emmitt during his birthday party while I was around him... then I'd go back to hating April 2nd when I was alone.
And then 2 years later... on the SAME date... God decided to really get my attention... not ONE but TWO more grandsons were born... again... you guessed it... on April 2. Yes, Edward Ramsey Odom and Kenneth Rhett Odom made their arrivals on April 2nd of 2020 (during COVID I might add!) Twins... on his death day...
April 2nd is still Andrew's death day, and I'm sure I will continue to spend time each April 2nd mourning my loss, but WOW... 3 grandsons born on the same date! Obviously God wanted me to stop "hating" on the date - April 2nd.
The Bible tells us that God has numbered all our days, and they are each important. We all have an allotment of time. We all have appointed days. I encourage you to cherish each one you have no matter the moments of grief you may feel on those days.
Do I wish my son would have been able to spend every holiday with me? Absolutely. However, my refusal to be happy and celebrate life does not make up for his loss in this life. I had to come to grips with this. It was not a single moment in time that I decided I'd live again. No... it was minute-by-minute for a long time. Then hour-by-hour... day-by-day... week-by-week... month-by-month... and finally year-by-year.
Three Things I'd love to leave with you:
1. Yes there are going to be those days. Do not dread them; live them... mourn during them... but rise above the grief associated with them.
2. Do not expect all your family members or even friends who have lost their own loved ones to grieve just like you on those days. Some may need more time; some may not take as much time as you do. That does not negate their personal grief or love for their loved one.
3. When God tells you it's time for joy in your life... especially after three messages... go ahead and live a little. Laugh a lot more... remember you are here for a reason! And He wants you to be happy again!
I pray for each of you to have special grace and peace during "those days."
Much love to you all!
To Be Continued!