When your loved one crosses over the rainbow bridge it hurts. Holidays are rough for the first few years. I think birthdays are painful forever. You always have the compulsion to add another year of “what ifs?” and “if only (s).” My son’s birthday is coming up in a few days and even though he has been out of his physical body four times longer than he was with me, another birthday without him still causes my heart to ache.
Cory’s cousin just crossed over the rainbow bridge three months ago. They were only a few weeks apart in age. I know Cory was there along with his uncle Terry to greet Travis with open arms. I thought of Travis on his birthday a few weeks ago. He was able to grow up and get married but he suffered from a painful disease for most of his life. That could not have been easy. He fought the good fight. My heart goes out to his family but especially to his mother. Age does not matter. He will always be her baby boy.
When my brother’s birthday is approaching I start feeling sad. I miss him like crazy but my sadness is more for his grieving widow and his children. He should still be here with them. Then, that sadness turns into anger about the crappy medical treatment he received.
A few days ago my friend’ Elle’s sweet mother Frances died. She had been to the hospital several times in the past week. Both times the hospital sent her home. The last time, she passed the very next day! That’s when Elle found out her mother had stage 3 kidney disease and stage 4 liver cancer. I am still stunned. Were they just being callous because of her age? Did they really miss those two BIG diagnoses?
My grandson came home with a similar story about his friend’s grandfather getting blown off by the same hospital. His family was told not to bring him to the ER again, they would turn him away. Something terrible was said such as, “Get him a burger and let him die happy.” Really? Who says that to a frightened family? Does this hospital staff think that too many birthdays means people are expendable? (It sounds like a good news story. I may pass it along to a local journalist).
Yes, birthdays are hard whether the person you cared about died years ago or recently or whether the person was nine or ninety. I don’t cry anymore but the longing and the missing are still part of my thoughts and inner well-being. So, just know that when the birthday of your loved one is approaching be ready for a shift. It is normal to feel extra sensitive and sadder than you have lately. When the day actually gets here, you will marvel at how well you did and then try to tuck away those feelings until the next one approaches.
It might help to celebrate his or her birthday in some way. You can bake a cake, donate flowers in his or her name to your church if you have one, or drop off food to the local food bank, donate to a favorite charity, invite loved ones to write a favorite memory down and send to you, ask for photographs, buy a bouquet of flowers at the grocery store and gift it to a random person in the parking lot, or even just pay for the order of the car behind you in the Starbucks drive-thru.
Shirley Enebrad is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist with 25 years of experience. For her many years of work with pediatric cancer patients and those grieving the loss of a loved one, she received the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service and the Angel of Hospice Award. She is the author of Six-Word Lessons on Coping with Grief and Six-Word Lessons for Surviving a Devastating Diagnosis.
See the Authors!