Here at Beyond, we realise that grief will affect each person differently. Often it can be comforting and insightful to read or hear someone’s own unique grief story; how they felt then, and how they feel now. The last time we had Kiri over to guest post on our blog, she told us what no one tells you about losing a parent, and the things she’s learned since losing her father. Two months later we welcome Kiri back to tell us about how she continues to remember her father, with examples from her upcoming wedding.
Anyone who has lost someone will probably agree that milestones are particularly difficult. These are the times when you would have had your loved ones there by your side, and facing these times without them is excruciatingly painful.
However, as time goes by you gradually become a little better at coping – the pain is always there and it’s just as strong as ever, you simply know how to manage it and channel it better. One technique I personally find useful is to use milestones as a chance to remember the good times and feel your lost loved one’s presence in a way that makes you feel happy and proud, not sad and upset.
I’ve been dreading that feeling of grief on my upcoming wedding day. For me, this is the hardest hurdle to overcome. Graduation was hard enough, but on a day when a father feels like such a pivotal part of proceedings, it’s rather difficult to push any feelings aside.
I’m bad enough at other people’s weddings let alone my own. Just last month I was a bridesmaid and when I saw the father of the bride cry when he first cast eyes upon her, something inside of me snapped. It was perhaps one of the toughest challenges so far, because I wanted to cry my eyes out and let all that emotion go, but I knew I had to be strong for my friend, so I cried inside and kept the tears from leaving my eyes.
I feel so torn thinking about my wedding. Torn because on one hand I feel like I’ve reached a point in my grief where I can cherish my father in the most beautiful way, but on the other hand, I think the fact that he won’t be there is going to hit me like a tidal wave.
He won’t see me in my wedding dress, walk me down the aisle, do a speech or dance with me, but he will be with me in other ways. Ways that are perhaps more meaningful than traditions or expectations, and ways that are far more salient.
I can’t promise that these ideas will work for you, but I’m hoping they will make my wedding day more special and make it feel as though he’s still an important part of the day.
A keyring for your bouquet
What do you carry with you for the majority of the day? Your bouquet. So why not have a little keyring tribute with a small photo or engraved keyring in memory of your lost loved one? As well as having it with you on the day this idea will be nice for photos that you can cherish. This was actually my mum’s idea, I’ve seen something similar before on Pinterest but as soon as she showed it to me I knew I had to have it.
Wear an item of their clothing
So my dad used to wear this grey leather jacket literally everywhere. It was his thing, and he looked darn cool in it, especially with his big moustache. This jacket reminds me of him so much, and we’ve still got it, it’s hanging up on display in my sister’s bedroom. I’ve asked my sister to walk me down the aisle in his place, and she’s going to wear his jacket with her bridesmaid dress.
It may be about ten sizes too big for her, but my sister, being quite alternative will most definitely pull it off. It will feel as though he’s there with us, keeping us strong as we walk down the aisle together. If you don’t have an item of clothing or want to wear one, another option is to bring a small object that reminds you of them and take it down the aisle with you
Include them on invitations
This won’t apply to everyone, only those who have lost a parent. It’s traditional to have on the invites your parents names and say ‘person A and person B request the pleasure of your company at the wedding of their daughter’. When I was thinking about what to do for this it didn’t seem right to just put my mum’s name. In life or in death my father is still my father, so I don’t see why he shouldn’t still get a mention. So I did a bit of research and apparently you can just write ‘person A and the late person B’. I felt so proud and pleased to be able to send my invites out with his name on.
Another idea is to wear a piece of jewellery. This can either be something that they used to wear, or you can get your own item made specially. For example, you could get a necklace with their star sign, or a bracelet with charms related to them. Personally, I’m wearing one of my dad’s rings. We took it to the jeweller who is going to engrave it with his name, make it a bit smaller and give it a silver coating.
Quote their words somewhere in a creative way
Did your loved one used to always come out with a particular saying or phrase? If so, you could have it on a sign somewhere in beautiful writing, or print out the quote and frame it. My father loved writing just as much as I do, and he’d often come out with really inspiring comments. After he died I found a box with letters he wrote to his parents, and also to my mum when he ended up in hospital for three months (he wrote her a letter every single day). I’m thinking of having this quote of his up somewhere at my wedding –
‘My problem is, I’m always too hopeful, and I can see so many good things and talk about them. Then when things don’t happen everyone says I am too much of a dreamer. Without dreams I would shrivel and crumple. I need to dream to make things happen, and I will. ‘
And just in case none of the above ideas suit you and your story, I’ve come up with a few more suggestions below:
- Have a chair for them at the meal and put an object of theirs on the chair
- Use them as inspiration for table names, such as places you’ve been together
- Opt for their favourite flower
- Play a few of their favourite songs
- Raise a drink to them
- Encourage guests to donate to a charity that they supported
- Do a balloon release or firework display in their honour
- Give guests seeds for your favours and request they plant them in their memory
- Have someone light a candle for them as a part of your ceremony
- Use sparklers to write their name and get your photographer to capture it on film