Anticipating Laurie’s Birthday

As family birthdays, Mother’s Day and now Laurie’s birthday pass, I have been thinking a fair bit about the passage of time and how grief and time play together. My grief remains but in a different form. There is still an outsized hole in my life and I really wish she were around to enjoy (and take credit for) how great her boys are doing. But the grief is softer and less pointed.

There is an element of dealing with Laurie’s death that I know I share with a number of her close friends. That is guilt. Not guilt for what we did or didn’t do when she was alive. But guilt about how we have worked through her absence. There are projects and activities of almost every scale that has been left undone. Things I meant to write, organize, give away, memorialize have been left undone.

I resolve to do three things. 1) Get back to the tasks left undone. It is never too late to give one of Laurie’s scarves away, or to organize proper photo albums. 2) Relieve myself of the self-imposed guilt. For whatever reason these things didn’t get done. I no longer want to feel bad about it. 3) Declare and amnesty on Laurie induced guilt. If you are carrying the weight of something you meant to do but haven’t done please remove that weight. If you feel guilty because you think I have been expecting something of you, you should stop feeling guilty immediately.

I know for many of us not feeling guilty is easier said then done. If I could wave a magic wand I would.

I am looking forward to re-connecting with friends and remembering Laurie.

Happy Birthday, Daniel


Daniel, age 5, fingerguns
Daniel, 5th Birthday, Finger guns

This site has become a birthdays and other anniversaries blog it appears. Oh, well.

Here is Daniel 14 years ago celebrating his fifth birthday at Cosmic Adventure. The Cosmic Adventure headache has faded but Daniel remains the same wonderful kid he has always been. Except this year he stopped at the Beer Store and LCBO on his way home from work on his birthday.

August 4th

I’m blogging this.

It is Laurie’s birthday. Usually I try and mark this kind of occasion by getting together with friends and family. Laurie was close to some wonderful people and it has always been an exceptional treat that I get to spend time with them. In our ‘normal’ busy lives I hardly get to see those people as much as I would like. These days, when sitting around on a patio talking about Laurie seems irresponsible, we will have to remember in other ways.

I will try and brave the rain today and spend some time at Brown’s Inlet where her memorial tree is. And I will do my best to gather people together as soon as it is safe.

Take care of yourself and each other.

Grief at a Year

Something I wrote a year ago around the anniversary of Laurie’s death.

A year ago, my spouse died. Sharing my life with Laurie and making a family with her was the best thing that ever happened to me. Losing her may very well be the worst thing that ever happens to me. I have lived an exceptionally privileged life.

I have spent much of the last year thinking about grief. I have been surrounded by people who loved her and have grieved with me, sometimes talking about Laurie, sometimes not. I have noticed a few things through spending time with sad people. The first is that we lack vocabulary and etiquette to talk about death. My loss is unique to me, but losing people you love is completely universal. We have trouble articulating how that makes us feel.

Second, when I speak openly about missing Laurie and being both happy and sad to talk about her, people are appreciative. Everyone has suffered loss. Not everyone has had the opportunity to really grieve. Being sad with other people is perfectly fine. It seems like we all need a space and time where we can talk about loss and being sad. Sometimes that is part of our everyday lives. Not a therapy session or a wake, but just part of our everyday lives.

Once I started talking about Laurie and our shared loss, I found that friends opened up about other losses, too. That Laurie’s death brought up buried feelings of grief and sadness. I heard from multiple people that missing Laurie allowed them to finally grieve for other loved ones. My impression is that there is a lot of unfinished or incomplete mourning out there.

As a society we deal with death poorly. People feel awkward and uncomfortable, as well as sad or angry or ambivalent. We feel that we lack ability to talk about it. We find language tricks that allow us to acknowledge death without really talking about it.

There are many ways to grieve. I would never dream of being prescriptive, but I would ask that if you have lost someone close to take the time to process your thoughts and feelings. Take the time to be sad. Being sad is not wrong or something to get over. It is a wonderful leftover part of your love for someone no longer there.

I had the complete privilege of being able to make choices about how to mourn. Many people do not have that opportunity. Creating space for grief in its many forms is important. As friends, employers, colleagues, and neighbours, we should all appreciate that death is part of our lives. A regular thing, not a special occasion thing.

Everyone dies. If we are lucky, we will mourn someone we loved. We will love someone enough to be sad. If we are really lucky, we will love someone enough that their absence is heart breaking. Really we should be celebrating being sad and not shoving it into a dark corner or letting it erupt over drinks or a poignant Pixar movie.