Dan and I went to a wedding celebration last week. My goddaughter got married earlier this summer on a family vacation and held a party for friends and family to celebrate her marriage. We had a wonderful time connecting and reconnecting with friends, some we hadn’t seen since we moved from Chicago in 1993. We also experienced a few difficult moments.

Weddings have been hard for us since Leah died. Knowing we would never celebrate her wedding with her, never witness her stepping into partnership with her beloved. The first several wedding we attended were most difficult. Seeing the bride escorted down the aisle by her dad was almost more than we could bear. We would step outside for the father daughter dance at the reception. We did what we need to do to care for our fragile psyches. As hard as these times were for us, it was important for us to honor each new bride and groom as they made a new family. It was a way for us to affirm life and celebrate with our friends and family.

We emerged from this latest wedding celebration with the knowing that our attendance at the party was as healing for us as it was for others who know our story. Yes, we did step outside as the bride danced with her dad. It surprised us how fresh the feelings of grief still are at times.

We did not let our “close to the surface tears” stop us from dancing. One of the songs that was played was “My Girl”. Dan and I used to sing that song to Leah when she was a baby, and she loved it. She always danced to it herself. We knew that she too was in attendance blessing the marriage and reminding us that she remains close to us when we miss her most.

If you find yourself in a similar place after the loss of a loved one, do what you need to do to take care of yourself. If attending an event is too difficult, honor yourself where you are. Or change things up from what you normally do. There are ways to get through the difficult special events and milestones. The first step is to acknowledge your feelings as they are. In a future blog I will share some specific ways to meet a milestone day or holiday.