Birth and death anniversaries are landmarks in the timelines of our life. Marking beginnings and ends when we adhere to linear time. Having had a natural gift for remembering dates, I have given them due recognition in the past. But as loved ones departed, one after the other, somewhere I began to question the emotional charge that these dates held for me. Especially death anniversaries. I wanted them to mean less, fade into the everyday business of getting on with life.
Why do these dates carry so much importance anyway?
The answer that emerged was that they gave us an excuse to do what we don’t do enough of. When we don’t celebrate or acknowledge loved ones through the year, birthdays offer the excuse to pamper them, honor them and celebrate them. No taking-for-granted on this day. On this day, you allow yourself to demonstrate all the love that may have been assumed, restrained, withheld or forgotten for the rest of the year.
And on death anniversaries, you allow yourself to fully face the grief of their departure. For that day, you can give yourself the freedom to be overwhelmed with memories, to be swept away in emotion, to allow any nagging questions that remain to show up. It is allowed. It is expected. After all, shutting the door on old memories does not make them go away. It just hides what you prefer to ignore. Unless you face them, question the thoughts, process the emotions and heal – tending to old wounds is left for anniversaries.
The pendulum of course swings to the other side before finding balance. So for a few years, I told myself that dates are irrelevant. They are historical. But why should we push ourselves to downplay the importance of the people who mattered to us? Even if they no longer take physical form, they continue to hold special places in our heart. Naturally, there will be associations that will be remembered. Dates, times, places. And that is fine too. What is, is. What was, was.
But as we mature and come in touch with our inner worlds, there is greater clarity. Hence there is greater peace.
The more that I have learned to live in the moment, the more fully that I allow and accept my emotions, the less these dates stand out. Now every day is a cause for the same celebration as the one that heralds the arrival of someone precious. Because one has learned not to take even a single day for granted, you cannot park unrestrained love and gratitude for just one particular day of the year.
Now I allow the emotions to flow, acknowledge the memories as and when they arise. More than anything else, I send blessings to those who have moved on, feeling the richness of the gratitude that accompanies any pain. It is natural.
As Gibran said,
“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart
and you shall see that in truth
you are weeping
for that which has been your delight.“
Now there is neither effort at underplaying the significance of dates, nor any attempt to exaggerate their importance.
What is unchanged is gratitude. And the smile that even the memory of a loved one brings.
Times change. Reactions change.
Love remains constant.
Be true to your self. Be love.