When my husband first died, I went to visit his grave frequently. After a few months, the headstone was finally put down. Initially I thought myself prudent in going ahead and purchasing a double headstone. It would be one less thing for my children to take care of after I'm gone. What I didn't understand was just how it would feel to see my name there just waiting for that final date. I was very sad to see Mike's name there, but I was not prepared for the anxiety and fear that would follow when encountering my own name.
Now it is difficult for me to go there. My mother, sister, and grandparents are all buried nearby. Going to the cemetery to put down new flowers was something I've done many times. My sister died as a young adult and my mother was always taking flowers and holiday decorations there. It was comforting. After I lost Mom and then grandmother, I continued those traditions. I assumed with Mike, it would be the same, but it wasn't.
Before he died, Mike would remind me that while his body was there, he would not be. He encouraged me to do whatever was best for me. I do put flowers on the graves, but I don't feel compelled to decorate them for each holiday.
Instead I think of Mike when I see a small airplane flying across the sky, when I see a bougainvillea blossom, when I see a Baobab tree, when I see the commercial for Olive Garden, and of course there are many others.
When I see a blue sky with white clouds, I remember lying on a blanket with my Mom and siblings watching the clouds and pointing out what each one looked like - a horse, a bell, a cat, etc.
When I see roses, I think of my grandmother. She was so proud of her small rose bushes. When they bloomed, she would cut a few blossoms and place them in water in a little jelly jar.
And my sister, I see her in green army jackets, which is a story I'll save for another time.
We each have to find our own path through grief. Time does help, but I think this is because you let go of the fear, frustration, and sadness and appreciate the good things and cherish the memories. If you're reading this and hurting, I hope you can find a little peace with a sweet memory.