I received an email this week from a young woman (19 years-old) who requests that I post it in the hopes that it will help others:
Subject: 3rd anniversary of father’s death
Dear Dr. DePompo, The 3rd anniversary of my father’s passing is in 2 days. he was the best person in my life and we were very close. he was dying for 5 years before he finally did pass on. so it was an expected death. however he was only 39 and i was only 16. it was the hardest time of my life and i can’t get over him. and this year things have changed because i had a son , who is now 8 months old, and i’m getting married in 2 months. all of which he is supposed to be here for. and its really hard on me. especially with his passing being only 4 days after fathers day. so i want to do something nice on the day of his passing. so i asked my fiance , and he said he’s too busy. so i don’t know what i can do that will cherish his memory and help me to have an easier day? help!
Dr. DePompo: First of all I am deeply sorry for the loss of your father. I know typically people may say that to you the first few months or so following the loss and then that support seems to stop..as if the feeling of loss stops…and it often does not. Anniversaries of the loss of a loved one in particular are difficult (I will say more in a moment).
I first off want to compliment you on your patience with your fiance when he says he is too busy. You are being flexible with him and not demanding that he is always there for you when you need him and in terms of your coping – and this is likely a strength for sure. But what it sounds like is MOST concerning to you in how to best honor your father.
On a “Practical” level, some people write messages on ballons to their loved one and release them into the sky, others plant a significant plant, while others donate any amount to a charity in their loved one’s name…but on an “Emotional” level, WHAT WOULD REALLY BE A SYMBOLIC HONORING for your father? Would it be doing something for someone that he cared about (and just keep it between you and he), would you engage in an activity that he loved to do and do it in his honor. You can pray, or tell stories about your father (or slip stories about him in your conversations all day long). You can carry a piece of his jewlery with you or even better, wear his ring on your neck. – But even BETTER: What would he wish for you if he was here now?–Could you do something for yourself that would move you positively in that direction? Can you commit to finding happiness and taking care of yourself in a way that would honor his love toward you?
Whether you are thinking scientifically or spiritually, he IS with you now–taking care of yourself is taking care of and honoring him.
If you can, let me know which if any ideas you decide 🙂
Good Luck Danielle
Dr. Paul DePompo