Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's All In How You Word It

Okay people. It’s time to put our thinking caps on. This has bothered me for years and I sometimes get the feeling it bothers some of the rest of you.

The word “anniversary.”

When we’re talking about the day our spouses passed, we always seem to put that word in quotes, don’t we? Which to me signals that it’s not really the right word. “Anniversaries” are supposed to be fun. They’re supposed to be a celebration. They’re supposed to commemorate something positive…like not killing each other in the first 10 years of marriage.

I don’t know about you, but…I can stretch this definition to include the “celebration” of my husband’s life, but “fun” it is NOT.

(I hope I don’t get called on overuse of “quotations” during this blog.)

When I looked up “death anniversary” on Wikipedia (I know…who knew there was such an official thing listed?) it mentioned several countries where it’s tradition to mark the weeks, months, years since a loved one has passed. And guess what? America was not one of those countries. Go figure.

Now, in India it said, “According to Indian texts a soul has to wander about in the various worlds after death and has to suffer a lot due to past karmas. Shraadh is a means of alleviating this suffering.”

Well, that sounds like a downer.

I personally liked Vietnam’s custom. They said “it is a festive occasion, at which members of an extended family gather together. Female family members traditionally spend the entire day cooking an elaborate banquet in honor of the deceased individual, which will then be enjoyed by all the family members.”

Now, that I can get on board with. But I’m originally from Louisiana, so anything that involves food sounds like a great idea. As long as it’s fried.

Since America is obviously not on this list (and neither is Canada or England, so for my blog readers over the boarder and across the pond, we really need to make this an international movement), I vote that we work together and come up with our own word. After all…countries that don’t even have cable TV or iPhones have, so why shouldn’t we?

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and I’ll be the first to admit…I’m stumped. I mean, we can’t say, “It’s been one year since I experienced the change” which is really kind of what it is, but any man out there who says it will get some odd looks, to say the least.

We can’t say, “It’s been one year since our life together ended” which is, again, what it is but depending on your tone when you say it, might land you in a psyche ward somewhere.

So we need something that’s not too depressing because, being the good widows that we are, we don’t want to make all of those outside our new world uncomfortable. We need something that suggests a small element of “crazy” but not too much because we don’t want to be monitored for the rest of our lives. We need something that helps us remember our loved ones, celebrates their life, and acknowledges how different our own is now.

I know that everyone’s traditions are different and no one handles these milestones in the same way. Some prefer a quiet day to reflect and remember. Some prefer a loud party and think the best way to commemorate their loved one’s passing is to tap a keg. And some fall in between the two and like to invite friends over for a quiet glass of wine.

Given my previous posts, some of you may know where I fall. I’ll give you a hint…it involves a cork.

I realize that how we all choose to remember a loved one’s passing is as individual as the person who’s gone. But I still wish we had some other universal phrase that would explain to the outside world that we’re remembering, we’re celebrating….

We’re just really not all that happy about it.

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© Catherine Tidd 2010