Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Capture Your Grief 2016-Day 19: Grief Rituals

This post is part of Carly Marie's Capture Your Grief.

Creating rituals in grief do wonders for healing your heart. Do you have any grief rituals? Maybe something you do on special dates like birthdays or anniversaries? How do these rituals help you?

There are several rituals we do to help with our grief. For Oscar's and Bella's birthday, we go grocery shopping as a family. We buy a breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner for each kid and donate it all to a food pantry. The caveat is that we choose foods that we think each kid would have liked. Now that Gus is older, he is 100% responsible for choosing the foods that he thinks Tittle would choose if he was alive. Jon and I split Oscar and Bella, and when Lucy is old enough she will help choose for Firefly. It is somewhat sad, to be in the grocery store wondering what Bella, at 7, would choose for her birthday meals if she were alive, but with our donation, their lives, all their lives, is having a positive impact on the world. We also release balloons and buy/watch movies that we think Oscar and Bella would pick if they were alive to pick a birthday movie. This year's movie choices were Box Trolls and The Princess Diaries 1&2.

For Tittle's death anniversary, we try do do something sneaky. When I was still working full-time I would take the day off work and see a movie, sneaking in candy to eat during it. In 2015, we did a sneaky science experiment (Diet Coke and Mentos) for Gus. In 2016, I made a "sneaky" cake-no one knew what color the inside was going to be except for me.

For Firefly's anniversary we light sparklers. The last few years Jon has been able to find fireworks, usually fountains, that we also light off at night.

On January 1, Oscar's and Bella's due date, we make snow angels in our yard and spray paint them. It's really cool to have them be covered by more snow, and have the snow angels reemerge weeks later when the snow melts.

In 2013, we began the ritual of donating school supplies in memory of our kids. This was the year that Oscar and Bella would have started 4K. We took the school supply list, bought one set for Oscar, one set for Bella and donated everything to the school they would have attended. In 2014, the year Tittle would have started 4K, we donated 2 sets of kindergarten supplies and one set of 4K supplies. In 2015, we did two sets of 1st grade supplies and 1 set of kindergarten supplies. This year, back in Wisconsin, we were able to continue this tradition; we donated 2 sets of 2nd grade supplies and one set of 1st grade supplies. Next year, 2017, will be the first year we donate for all kids-2 sets of 3rd grade supplies, one set of 2nd grade supplies and one set of 4K supplies.

Additionally, we include the things we do for our four kids in our annual Christmas letter just like we include things that we've done with Gus and Lucy in the letter.

The process of doing these different rituals is quite healing. Life is consumed with life, the people that are living, the events that are happening now. By doing the grocery shopping, the school shopping, the movies, sneaky experiments and sparklers, I am able to pause. I am able to spend time in spirit with my kids. I am able to still parent them. I am able to remember and honor them. I am able to continue making memories because of them since I can't make memories with them.

2016 Food Donation for Oscar's and Bella's birthday

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