One of my summer projects was to go through all the sympathy cards we received after my mother's death, reread them one last time and throw them away. They have been sitting in a box on a table for almost a year, and I decided it was time to declutter.
I dreaded the task in a way, and yet I looked forward to it as well. Remembering all the kind thoughts and loving sentiments would feel good, I thought. But then it would feel good to throw them away and begin to move forward with the grief.
So today was the day. As I began to go through them, I found some had verses or prayers I wanted to save and others had notes I wanted to save. I started a pile of what to save and what to pitch, and quickly it became apparent I could not pitch any of them. The notes were so comforting, sentiments so beautiful, and memories of how much it meant to receive them overwhelming.
I thought that getting past the year anniversary would be a big step. We've survived the holidays and Mother's Day, and July 28th will be the anniversary. But, you know, it's just the beginning of adjusting to life without her...just the beginning of walking the mourner's path. As the shock and the horror of her absence lessens, the happy memories really do return. And these wonderful cards will help every time I read them. They will help to recall the love others had for her, the fun and funny things she did and said, and the love people have for us as expressed by their kindness.
Being a grief counselor, I have learned a great deal in the last year which I could never have learned in facilitator training all those years ago. Don't throw away the condolence cards is the latest learning in that list. And also, never hesitate to send a card or even two. They mean so much. So very much. Thanks to all of you who did!