How you grieve will sometimes make others uncomfortable. From the day of your loss and for many years later, people will be watching how you remember the one you lost. It’s just human nature. If you laugh on the day of the funeral, some will wonder how you can be happy. If you cry ten years later, some will say you have not healed properly. Social media–Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Shapchat–have provided a whole new dimension of opportunities, decisions, and scrutiny. Should you post something on the first anniversary of your loss? Is it too maudlin? What about the fifth or tenth anniversary? If you were to ask your friends and family you would likely get a mix of responses that would not help much. Certainly to live an emotionally healthy life there must be healing and you must find a new beginning, but ultimately your appropriate expression of grief is personal and not for others to judge. To use a current phrase–you be you. At the same time, your grief is mostly a private matter.
Today is the 28th anniversary of my marriage to Tina Sanges, and December 16 will mark the tenth anniversary of her passing. She hasn’t been my wife for a decade but I can’t erase this date from my mind, nor should I. Over time like the picture above those memories fade, yet I can’t help remembering and feeling the loss. It does not mean that I have not healed, it means I have a heart. For me, posting anything on social media seems inappropriate. I know this blog is exactly that, but this post is for the benefit of those I seek to help, not me (mostly). To make a memorial post on my personal social media pages is too much and would be more for show than remembrance, for me. Among my family, and friends who were close to her it is suitable to remember privately. For my children it is essential to talk about it. Obviously if I were remarried I would want to be respectful to my wife in my expression. That is a post to come later. Ultimately the way you handle anniversaries and meaningful dates is your choice alone.
Although you cannot adjust your true feelings for others, their reactions can help you discern what is appropriate publicly. There is no right or wrong, but you do have to admit that it can be difficult for people around you to know what to say or do. As much as they can’t tell you how to feel, neither can you tell them how to feel. People exposed to your grief truly don’t know what to do with it. It is uncomfortable, for you and them. Of course their are also those who will grieve along with you. Grieve in a way that you feel is appropriate and be okay with that, regardless of how those on the fringe react.