The first year after loss is known to be especially poignant and difficult when the first anniversaries roll round without our loved ones around. It takes courage to muster the energy to celebrate, but celebrating can also be salve for our hearts.
Today, August 3, is my friend Janna Moll’s 67th birthday. She is not on the planet to celebrate, having transitioned suddenly two weeks ago tomorrow. It’s hard to say she died because she so adamantly believed and taught that we are all crystalized starlight, here as human bodies in our densest form but truly undying light. This week I’ve been helping plan a virtual celebration of Janna’s life, honoring her wishes.
Yesterday was the 82nd birthday of my friend Mukta’s mother, who was also a physician and educator. (She passed away last November, three weeks after my own mother died.) Mukta is in India this week and today recited the Oath to Self-Care and Well-Being with medical students at Goa Medical College where she graduated and her mother taught (her grad pic is below).
Did you happen to see the graduation photos of students in Ukraine, posing amidst the rubble of war? It’s paradox personified to insist we celebrate amidst sorrow.
Next Monday, August 8th, is my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary. Dad, my sister and I haven’t yet made plans about how to mark the occasion. Last summer, as we were pondering bucket lists, Mom was planning a party, inexplicably thinking it would be their 100th anniversary, or her 100th birthday soon. She said, ““I’d love to have a big party and invite all my adult friends, the ones who haven’t given up on life.” She also planned to invite kids.
It takes courage to love and feel loss. It takes courage to admit we feel lost after losing our loved ones. It takes courage to consider we’re not lost at all but perhaps on a leg of our journey where it’s just harder to see past the horizon.
Ignoring an occasion feels like a form of that stress default, flee or flight. How can I fortify myself instead, a.k.a., open my heart despite sorrow? Celebrating can be a form of self-care!
Gratitude helps me get grounded. I revisit my blessings for all that I learned by loving others, receiving their love, and sharing those learnings like ripples.
What do you think your loved ones wish for you in this moment? How can you keep their bright light shining? And yours?
What questions might help us celebrate our own creative courage, no matter what the occasion?
How do you make time to mark the occasions? Who would you invite to join you today?
Your creations are coming to life... What future hopes do you hold? What lights will they shine?
Beautifully written and thank you for sharing. I am going to make this reflection a ritual. Recognizing and accepting loss and reframing to remember and celebrate the joyful times will help celebrate our loved ones and fill our hearts and soul. Lots of love and light to you.
This is a beautiful post, Shelly, and some very provocative questions. Unfortunately we don't think about these things enough when we're busy in life, until that loss wakes us up. May you feel Janna's brilliant spirit with you when you raise your wine glass and coffee mug in her honor with those who loved her!!