December 4, 2009

Working from home

After all my posts about busy work, we've had a totally dead week. I got so tired of twiddling my thumbs in the office, I decided to 'work from home' today. Thus far? Cleaned rooms, doing some laundry, talked with my sister. We have more work coming in January, so it's not like we're in danger of layoffs, it's just going to be a very slow month.

Which is a nice change of pace!

Of course, as soon as work slows down, we start packing in the personal events. The next two weekends are already booked. Then on Monday the 21st, Mom K comes to town (on a one-way ticket!!) We both have to work that week, at least through the morning of Christmas Eve. Then that whole next week, I'm required by my job to take PTO. Which means Mom and I will get lots of time to hang out together. Thankfully, Jrex is planning to take most of the time off as well, so we're already planning some fun day trips and restaurants to enjoy.

I need some advice though. Mom and Dad K's wedding anniversary is December 23rd. We both will be working that day (which leaves her here in the apartment alone). What should we do to acknowledge her first anniversary since his death? I was a horrible daughter for my Dad in this. I always thought of him on November 1st, but never emailed or called. I literally had no idea how to handle it. What do you say? "I know you're thinking of Mom and it's a hard day." Obviously. I didn't even do that.

Do we do a special dinner? Have a candle-lighting ceremony? Tell stories about Dad? I know the principle that we're supposed to follow her lead, but I want to also give her permission to remember and grieve if she wants to do that. I suspect that my sister-in-law's focus has been to help Mom avoid thinking about Dad. I know that's not really a good solution and not a healthy way to grieve. I just don't know how to do this in a way that's cross-culturally sensitive and not just my family's version of 'how to grieve' (in which my special gift seemed to be to get people to cry).

Any suggestions? Anyone who's lost a spouse, what should we/could we do?


Snickollet said...

Oh, gosh. I have done a few different things on my anniversary since John's death . . . can't remember year 1, year 2 was fancy dessert out with girlfriends, and year 3 I spent the evening alone. To be honest, I've been very fearful of my anniversary as a grief trigger every year, much more fearful of the anniversary than any other date, and in the end, it's always been OK and I've always wanted to be alone. The girlfriends' evening was fun, but kind of overwhelming and almost forced. This past year, when I did spend the time alone, it felt really restorative.

But of course everyone is different and blah blah. And I have no idea what Koreans traditionally do for anniversaries. So all that said, my suggestion would be flowers and a nice card, maybe a gift of a good book or frivolous magazine or pretty journal or gift certificate to get a manicure or some other escape-oriented item. An offer for dinner plans but nothing assumed.

Hope that helps. You get major points for thinking about this ahead of time. I was so proud of my marriage and so sad I was married such a short time, thus I was so fearful no one would remember it when the date rolled around.

Sorry to hijack your comments.

Anonymous said...

Snickollet's comments are helpful, but also trust your instincts.

A question. December 23 will be the third MONTH anniversary of Jae's death. What makes you think that Nam will even be aware of it? But, if she is --

You have a gift in broaching subjects which most people are too scared to touch. I would think that the loving way to deal with Nam would be to give her scope. Perhaps on Monday the 21st you could ask whether there is anything special she would like to do leading up to Christmas.

And you could certainly take her out to dinner on the 23rd. That gives her permission to talk about Jae. Keep her in prayer. She may want to talk much about Jiu's father. And that could be very healing for her.

Bless you for thinking of her.

B.E.C.K. said...

I agree that it would be good to give your MIL the opportunity to talk (or not) about your FIL. I don't know if you can ask her directly if she'd want to do something to remember him; if you can(i.e., if she's approachable on that level), I think that would be nice. At the very least, I thinking making her feel loved and valued and respected would be great (at any time, but perhaps especially now).

Lil'Sis said...

My dad wasn't a big flowers kinda guy, but on their anniversary he always gave her flowers, since his death I send my mom flowers on that day and i call her, we talk and she's always said, "thanks for remembering, I love getting the flowers and talking to you about dad"....some folks might not like it, but my Mom does. She's remarried now, but we still do this. I'm sure whatever you do will be well received.

Mama Nabi said...

Koreans tend to remember their dead and honour them on many occasions. Did they always celebrate their wedding anniversaries? My parents never did and I don't remember wedding anniversaries being a big deal - however, your in-laws are Americans so probably did, right? I'd definitely make a gesture, to honour his memories somehow. Let her know that you recognize and remember what day it is. Maybe ask her ahead of time if there's anything special she'd like to do that day to remember him. Maybe take her to a special church service? I imagine there will be lots of services that week...? And maybe raise a glass in toast, in his memory. There is something to be said about following her cue - but the Korean older generations usually appreciate initiatives.

I am confident that you will find something appropriate to make that day tastefully remember and honoured. You are incredibly thoughtful and good/solid rock. :-)

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You can celebrate it in a simple way.Just by giving flowers.