Pre-Memory Syndrome: Anticipating the Remembrance Day

The Remembrance Day is the anniversary of a loved one’s death. I had no idea this was a thing—a real date on the calendar until I experienced my first.

Living through the Remembrance Day

It is not a celebration, or is it? For my family, we quickly turned this day into just that—a time to celebrate God as Father. We decided to reposition the traditional Father’s Day, making this date our new Father’s Day—the day our world changed forever with the death of my husband and the day that God gave us the gift of becoming Father to the fatherless. Someone once said, “We should have a fear of forgetting what God has done.” Even though the loss of dad is a heavy weight, the weighter reality is the gain of God in our lives in a way that is as Job declared, too wonderful for me. With that perspective, we put our hope in the sovereignty of God, trusting what he was doing and remembering his faithfulness from years past.

The Remembrance Day became an important day of reflection mixed with sorrow and thanksgiving.

Pre-Memory Syndrome (PMS)

Surprisingly for me, and many other widows, the anticipation of this day was even harder than the actual day itself. A different kind of PMS (Pre-Memory Syndrome) took place during the days leading up to remembering the one we loved and lost. It was as if a dark cloud hovered over the week prior just as a woman’s hormones can impact life at certain times of the month. This time; however, it was churning of internal emotions in anticipation that it was about to rain once again deep within our souls.

As the years pass by, this day will get easier, but most likely you will always be aware of the hurt and the feeling of “not okay” that the one you loved deeply is no longer living life with you. This reality was and is so sad and so hard, and so okay to feel. Those on the outside, even close friends and family, are usually unable to understand that the pain felt on the Remembrance Day is often as fresh as on the day it all happened. It is a tender time and will always be part of our calendar year. Thankfully, you might be surprised by those in your life who are willing to be educated on the realities of the Remembrance Day, with some going the extra mile to anticipate the time of memorial and wonder of it all with us.

3 tips to anticipating your Remembrance Day

First know this,

  • Remembering is unavoidable,
  • remembering is a sign of love, not stifled grief,
  • remembering is healthy,
  • and remembering is a gift of God.
  1. PMS is the real deal. Be kind to yourself during the week prior to the actual Remembrance Day.
  2. Feel all the emotions – they are normal. A lot is happening deep within your soul.
  3. Prepare and plan for the Remembrance Day. Here are some things I find helpful for each year.
  • Spend some time in silence. Set aside some time for reflection, even years later.

“…in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

  • Include others in remembering. Make a call to a family member or establish a tradition you look forward to in memory of your loved one and remember with My mother-in-law and I always experience a good cry together over the loss of the shared man in our lives. I still send balloons to my adult children (see Our New Father’s Day) as a reminder that it’s okay to grieve the loss of dad and celebrate the gain of God.
  • Serve others. Give these tender days away – there’s no better medicine than comforting as you have been comforted.

5 tips on loving a friend through their Remembrance Day 

  1. Be intentional by setting a yearly reminder on your phone so you can be sensitive to the tender emotions they are feeling leading up to this marked day.
  2. Ask what their plans are for the Remembrance Day
  3. Invite them to share their memories of the day and of their person with you.
  4. Share your memories of their person. The stories never get old and often bring healing. A note here, if you are going to be sharing a picture, video, or story on social media, it is always best to ask permission before sending it, receiving images of their loved one can be hard for some, so just ask before you send. 
  5. Recount God’s faithfulness with them. Remind them of a time God came through during these hard days, help them to see God’s guiding hand in their lives.

The good news is that once the first Remembrance Day has passed by, life goes on. Oh yes, the second year of grief will have an unexpected personality of its own, but the storm subsides in many ways, bringing some relief. The Remembrance Day will always be recognized in your heart of hearts, but there is also a growing peace that surpasses understanding, year after year.

“Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you” (Psalm 116:7).