In a recent Dear Abby column, a woman who loves to celebrate her birthday wrote to say her father-in-law died last year on her birthday, and this year there would be a memorial service on her special day. This is a woman who loves the candles, the cake, the singing, and getting taken out to dinner by her husband, who wasn’t a huge birthday celebration fan, but did what he could to please her.
This year, the family is getting together to hold a memorial service on the one-year anniversary of the father-in-law’s death (and her birthday). She was worried that her birthday would forever be associated with sadness and wondered if she’d ever be able to celebrate her birthday happily without feeling guilty about it.
Dear Abby, always so wise with so much of her advice, said yes she could, but start next year. She also suggested the woman and her husband could have a getaway weekend on a date other than her birthday this year to celebrate.
This birthday-loving woman needs to stop being so self-centered! A first-year anniversary of a death is important to observe as part of the grieving process.
Since she enjoys candles so much, perhaps she would embrace the Jewish tradition of lighting of a 24-hour candle the night before, to burn all day on her birthday. The all-day candle can keep the memory of her father-in-law burning bright, while she can enjoy an additional candle to celebrate her birthday.