She said, “The holidays are hard, but we get through those. It’s the anniversary that is the hardest day.”
The bereaved parents’ support group I facilitate has a concentration of its losses in March. Over half of our families observe the anniversary of their child’s death during this same month. So, when we gather in March, the sorrow is palpable. Faces wear the strain as bodies remember this time of year. There are simply some experiences that live in us, no matter how much meaning-making and acceptance we struggle to bring to them.
And so, it is at this very time when the support group does its best work by holding all the remembered sadness and the remembered gift together in an honored and safe place. Each year, as our stories grow more dense and detailed, we touch the deep significance of this gathering together . . . where else could we tell our stories than in this circle of understanding?
If you asked this gathering of parents what advice they have for getting through “the hardest day”, I suspect they would agree that trying to hide from its impact will not work . . . . and might even be harmful. The power of its memory is a testament to the importance of the relationship that has had to change so drastically. So, its intensity is honest and, as time goes on, these complex memories will soften as our shared strength heals us all.
The depth of “the hardest day” fully felt is equaled only to the depth of love that grows ever stronger.