Is there a date you dread? A death day anniversary? The birthday, death day, or anniversary date you ‘celebrate’ without your loved one’s earthly presence?
One of those dates for me is January 24th. Without looking at a calendar I can feel the countdown begin. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
Reed’s Last Run
The surprise Joy of my life, Reed Hawthorne Eggleston, was born July 27, 1982. Fifteen years later January 24th became my dreaded date.
I left my teenaged son’s body at the hospital on that day in 1998. Still on life support, until the transplant team arrived to harvest the ligaments in his lifeless legs. Reed would never run again.
His last run was escaping the shame of being kicked off the basketball team because he had failed a breathalyzer test.
The last time I saw Reed alive was at school, his head in his hands, the shame already too much to bear. Normally, I would have grabbed his hands and looked into his eyes, saying, “It’s okay. We’ll get through this.”
But knowing Reed when he was upset, I left him alone. Instead, I went to another room to comfort his girlfriend.
The last run of Reed’s life was when he snuck out the side door, ran home, and shot himself in the head.
I was plunged into grief by the worst loss a parent can imagine. My world became dark for years. I fell apart. The weight of the guilt triggering a profound sadness that lasted for more than 7 years.
Death Day Anniversary
So, I ask you again. Is there a date you dread? The birthday, death day or anniversary date you ‘celebrate’ without a loved one’s earthly presence?
I get it. Because the following year I felt powerless as January 24th approached. I couldn’t stop the upcoming dreaded date on the calendar.
What was it going to feel like?
In that moment I realized I had a choice:
I could sit at home behind closed doors and allow fear, sadness, and guilt to rule the day or…….
Create a day that Celebrated Reed!
So, I pushed open that door of dread and created an amazing day!!
Reed loved theater and acting. So, we engaged an actress to perform her one-woman play about the orphan trains that came through Nebraska.
The morning audience was a class of 4th graders. Their teacher, Marlene Blakeman, was Reed’s elementary school teacher.
The afternoon audience was his classmates, now sophomores.
That evening, 16 kids gathered around our big harvester table for lasagna and birthday cake. We celebrated Reed. And we celebrated one of Reed’s basketball buddies whose birthday was that day.
Yes, I was still suffering. No, it wasn’t an easy day. It was a roller coaster of emotions – sadness, guilt, longing, and… joy.
I realized I wasn’t powerless in the face of a dreaded date.
Today, I am nearly 70. I spent years working through grief. Reed was the fifth family member to die in 3 ½ years. I know about grief work.
And now, for the past 20 years, I’ve been supporting people through their trauma and grief; guiding them to the other side of loneliness and sadness.
My purpose is to companion you through the transformation of your grief heart to reveal your gentle heart. The heart that has been there all along.
Peace and Blessings all over,
PS – If this has touched you, please:
- Forward to a grieving friend.
- Share this post on your social media sites.
Join me in changing how we grieve in the US.