by Marilyn Nutter @marilynutter
Today's post is written by my friend and fellow writer, Marilyn Nutter. Her words exemplify a Titus 2 woman through encouragement and advice that will comfort you if you have lost a loved one and struggle through holiday celebrations. Please welcome her with your comments below.
Mother’s Day, the supreme Hallmark holiday, is met with flowers, fancy dinners, and cards. Father’s Day is often celebrated in more casual ways, with Dad grilling or golfing. But either day opens a wounded heart when a husband, wife, or parent has passed. As others celebrate, our beloved guest of honor is absent.
Loss Looks Different
Some cry more or talk less than others. Some withhold tears publicly. Journaling is a way to express grief, but writing doesn’t appeal to everyone.
Company and activity comfort some, while others prefer alone time. There is no “one size fits all” in grief, and holidays triggers grief and observances in new ways.
We may just want the calendar to skip a day or at the least, have time speed from morning to night. Neither is possible so we ask, “How do I remember with honor?”
The way we choose to remember our husband and Dad differs just as grief does.
We shed tears, crafted by God. The tears of grief are chemically designed to relieve stress and are different from the tears we shed peeling an onion. Tears are a part of loss.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 NLT
Fortunately, over time, the tears lessen, and the intensity of grief changes shape. The first holiday is always the hardest. As we move to the second and beyond, holidays don’t become better, but different, and our shape changes. In God’s mercy,
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 NIV
As time passes, what brought tears over the sight of a favorite restaurant, hearing a song, or recalling a shared event, changes from emotional remembering to historical remembering. Where we once broke down in tears rehearsing memories, we begin to smile and laugh telling stories.
Father’s Day Remembrances
Which brings us to Father’s Day. Just as grief is expressed uniquely, so are remembrances. How we choose to remember tangibly varies according to our relationships, personalities, and talents.
- On Father’s Day, we will scroll through social media posts about living and deceased fathers, complete with photos, tributes, and memories. These may bring a grief burst—where you haven’t cried in months, the site of photos and recalling memories bring tears to your eyes. It is another stop on a journey. One of my daughter’s posts are elaborate and thought out, sometimes with a collage of pictures. Another doesn’t post but sends us group texts and a photo with a memory. Their love for their Dad is equally deep but expressed in different ways.
- Some people plan a menu to include a favorite meal or dessert.
- Some spontaneously tell stories and say, “Dad would have said…” “Dad would have liked…”
- Four of my grands have gone fishing and use my husband’s rods and reels in his honor—he taught them to fish.
- Others pass through the day with Dad in their thoughts and celebrate their husband.
Beyond Father’s Day
|Grandchildren with Papa's remembrances|
A few weeks ago at a Modern Widows Club meeting, my friend Becky shared a quilt made of her husband’s ties. Displayed on her living room chair, it keeps her husband close by.
Another friend had her husband’s wedding ring joined together with hers and she wears it as a necklace.
I made pillows from my husband’s shirts and gave them to my grandchildren, Fortunately, I found photos of them with their “Papa” wearing that shirt and gave them a framed photo too.
My daughter had wrist cuffs made for each of us, from my husband’s belts. “It is Well with My Soul” was a favorite hymn and she had that title engraved on it.
Another daughter made a Shutterfly photo album of highlights with Papa.
Loss is always present; the empty chair remains at the table. We can look back, like glancing in a rear-view mirror, with gratitude and look forward to the wide front window.
Father’s Day does not have to become a memorial service. Savor the cherished memories and look at the new moments that are part of a Dad’s legacy.
Celebrate your son and son-in-law’s presence and influence. Appreciate the legacy a Dad passed on to sons and daughters and acknowledge a skill or quality.
The best advice I received shortly after my husband died was to “grieve in the way that is right for you.” In my grief-clouded brain, I didn’t fully understand, but in time and in companionship with other widows, I realized our losses were unique and complex.
So it is with observing, living through, and remembering on Father’s Day. There is no right or wrong way—only the way that honors your loved one in the way that is right for you.
The memory of the righteous is blessed...Proverbs 10:7a NKJV
Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories of your loved one.
http://marilynnutter.com/. Join her and find resources on hope, encouragement, and grief. In September 2021, her book co-authored with April White will be released. Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart, speaks to those who have experienced life interruptions, but can travel with hope.