He’s gone -It’s OK to say their name
After spending the past thirty 4th of July’s together, which was also my husband’s birthday, grief comes back full swing and is one of the more difficult holidays to get through for me.
Year one I made a nice Facebook post with photos. Then I made sure to be away from home. My brother and sister and mom and our kids joined us in Cape Cod for a family reunion. This ensured a good distraction and no one really mentioned Mike. Avoiding pain and sadness was my immediate goal. My family was hopeful that I’d be OK, so I was.
Year 2 I again avoided our traditional celebration of the 4th and accepted an invite to a barbecue with new friends. Hoping to again avoid sad feelings it backfired when I was overcome with a sobbing fit in the bathroom.
These new friends were lovely but they didn’t know it was Mike’s Birthday.
They didn’t know about all the crazy parties we used to go to with his high school friends and those fireworks! They didn’t know we used to host parties at our house and that Mike made amazing steak sandwiches.
One sweltering hot year we all jumped in our above ground swimming pool. Even the grandparents climbed up and over the ladder in hopes of chilling out. The group got rowdy when the entire party started to play the game “keep the beach ball in the air”. That was fun and I know there’s a picture around somewhere to recall that memory.
My new friends are great but they didn’t know about the tradition of having a Carvel cake with candles for Mike on the 4th of July. They didn’t know that he loved the Grateful Dead and that he always played “Jack Straw” in the morning of his birthday because of that one line “…leaving Texas 4th day of July. Sun so hot, clouds so low, the eagles filled the sky”
They didn’t know that his favorite photo was the one with all the neighborhood women kissing him on his 50th birthday.
It wasn’t their fault. I was happy to have new friends but I also felt like I was cheating. I wanted people to remember him too.
Some friends recently expressed how much they miss my husband in their lives too. I’ve been selfish and the healing has been about me but maybe I could do something to bring us all together. We could share stories and speak his name.
I wasn’t sure I was ready for this. But the past 2 years I felt a bit detached. I was ready to share the day with people who loved me and Mike and it would be Ok to share memories, I thought.
My mother in law once shared with me how her mother dealt with the loss of her son in the service back in the 1940’s. After her mom mourned alone in her bedroom for several weeks she came out of the room. It was understood that no one would mention her brother and so no one did. That’s how it was done.
Memorial at Home
Fast forward to last week on the 4th of July. I displayed the poster boards I had hastily put together for the wake almost 3 years ago. I asked people to light a candle and recall a memory about Mike.
To read more about my journey after loss, my book NO SIMPLE HIGHWAY: A widow’s journey to seek justice for her husband’s death is available on Kindle and paperback on Amazon:
Read the first chapter here: Chapter One
People walked around the house and deck saying Mike’s name, sharing stories with his parents and me and helping us all heal from this tragic, senseless loss.
We shared a brunch of quiche, bagels, fruit and Prosecco. Mike would have enjoyed the gathering, in fact I’m sure he was with us.
So often I hear that widows and widowers are sad that no one says their spouse’s name anymore. No one is really sure what the reaction will be, but most of us are happy to know that our loved ones are remembered.
They made an impact on us. We think about them all the time.
They made an impact on others. It’s not just something to leave on a tombstone…it’s nice to share stories and keep those memories alive. Especially the ones that make us laugh.
How people live their lives, how they make others feel are what we remember.
I love to laugh with friends over funny memories of Mike. I also appreciate people who recall how much he loved me and our boys.
This is all part of the support we get from others that enables us to move forward and embrace life and more love in our lives.
Thank you for reading and letting me share my grief journey and Mike’s memory.
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Feeling the same way. Love when my friends express how they miss him.
Me too. Thanks for reading.
Thank you so much for sharing this. We all loved him and it was nice to be together on his birthday. I am sure he was there with us!
Thanks Karen for helping share the day.
I am glad to hear that you enjoy hearing Mike’s name as I try and mention the name of the person who has passed to a loved one and share a story. I always hope that the story may be one they have not heard. XO
That’s great Leslie. Sharing stories is the best
Making new friends mean new traditions and people to let into your life. You don’t need to forget the old but also let in the new.
Thanks for reading. Yes it’s so important to let the new in too.
I am so sorry for your loss, but you have a great positive attitude about it and I love how you honor him.
Thanks for reading. I appreciate your comment. It’s so hard to lose your husband but by talking about them it helps the healing process.
Thank you for this!! I have a dear friend of mine who has just recently lost her husband at a young age and it’s nice to hear stories like this in hopes I can have an idea of where she’s at. Thank you and I’m so sorry for your loss!
Thanks for reading and I hope this post does help your friend.
Thank you so much for sharing this story! The 4th of July was also my Grandma’s birthday and we used to throw huge parties. When she passed away unexpectedly, the holiday changed a lot of for our family. It’s so much better to share memories of loved ones instead of pretending they never existed.
You are right. So nice to remember our loved ones together.
I feel for you, losing yoru best friend and father of yoru kids must be a difficult thing. I have had many loses in my life but I still have my husband. We all mourn in different ways. I am glad you are coping with it and remembering the good times.
Thanks for reading. Loss is something we all will or have dealt with.
So glad to have found your blog. You are an inspiration to me, and I see, so many others. If you happen to return to Siesta Key, where I live, I’d love to meet you and take you to lunch!
Wow. That’s so sweet. Next time I go down there I’ll let you know. Thanks!!
Sorry for your loss. I can see why the 4th is so difficult every year. It is so important to be able to talk about people and remember them. To me, that is a vital part of the healing process.
Yes. Thanks for reading and your comment. We all need to help remember our loved ones.
I’m happy your staying busy I know it can be tough but your a great role model for everyone!
Thanks. That’s so nice. Keeping busy is definitely working for me.
I love reading personal stories. Thanks for sharing this with us!
Thanks for reading.
Hi Kris! I haven’t stopped reading your wonderful blogs, but I did take a break and have some catching up to do!! I only just read this one today, about Mike’s birthday and the Fourth of July…and coincidentally, that date is approaching in 2 days. Many of your blogs have really hit home for me and been VERY helpful, especially regarding loss and healing and being a single parent, although under different circumstances, but we faced similar challenges. As you know, my mother was also murdered, but on the Fourth of July 1975, and still, 44 years later, it is a difficult holiday for me to “fully” embrace as well, but I try, and I did for years for Wes to make it an enjoyable celebration. There was no reason why he shouldn’t enjoy our country’s traditions with fireworks and parties and all that. So I did my grieving on my own time in private, but one year I decided I would stop feeling sad, angry and so cheated from not having my mother to help guide me through this life, witness my achievements, reach major milestones, do all those “mother/daughter” things and get to watch her only grandchild grow up, and celebrate her life instead, however short it was. So, for the past 10 years or so, I always light a candle for her, too, and just hope she (and my father) are proud of me and their grandson 🙂 I will continue to read your blogs (keep writing!) and will get caught up soon!
Thanks for sharing your story Tanja. Some holidays are just much tougher. Making annual traditions is a great idea. Thanks for reading.