One of the first arbitrary questions that came up for me after the suicide of my sister was what do we do for her “death anniversary”? Death anniversary. What a horrible day to celebrate… But it is a marked date, a passing of time to remember our loved one that we have lost. Although it is a sad day to remember, I felt it was important to celebrate. There is no right or wrong answer for how one should celebrate this day. But for my mom and I, we decided to do something adventurous and fun every year on November 26. We push our limits and test our fear! We decided on this because it is what Jewels loved, and what she would have wanted. Jewels was very adventurous, and had many items on her bucket list that involved nature and adventure.
During the first anniversary, we went zip-lining. We knew this is something she wanted to do; but we never got around to planning it with her. It was exhilarating, and we knew that Jewels was living through us.
During her second anniversary, we decided to go up in a Cesna airplane. My mom actually flew the airplane herself. We flew from Corona to Big Bear. It was gorgeous, flying right over the lake and seeing hiking spots at Mt. Rubidoux. She would have loved it.
Her third year anniversary is coming up, and although we know she really wanted to sky dive, we are a little hesitant on that one — okay, we’re scared!! We should face our fears eventually, but for now we might just settle with rock climbing.
Another hard one is what to do for her birthday. My mom took the reins on this one, since she was always the one who planned the birthday parties and got everybody organized. This day is especially hard, because every year that passes you imagine them getting older and you visualize what you guys would be doing if they were here and what they would be doing, based on their age. Today is Jewels’ birthday, and she would be turning 17. I’m sure she would have her license already, and maybe even a little putter car. She would be starting her senior year of high school, and prepping for what college she would be going to, or what her next steps in life would be after high school. But since she is not here, instead we get to remember her beautiful soul, and reminisce on the wonderful memories that we do have. We choose to celebrate her birthday by buying her favorite snacks and treats and eating them for her. We also choose to go out to eat where she would love to eat, but where we also greatly enjoy. It is important for us to celebrate her life, but also to celebrate us, because we are survivors.
There is no handbook for how to grieve, and how to celebrate a lost loved one. I hope sharing our personal experiences can help others understand that there is no right or wrong way. Everyone needs to do what ultimately makes them happy, because we are the ones who are here to carry on for them & we have to make sure we are taking care of ourselves, while we celebrate and remember.