This blog post is in loving memory of Jack Aaron Rittenhouse. We miss him immensely and we cherish the memories he left us with. Thank you for teaching us how to LIVE & LOVE BIG!!! This post is also in honor of a dear sweet friend that I found out died this week. She was a ray of light and giver to all. I will miss our chats and her loving gifts she gave me and the world. If you or anyone you know is struggling, please please be there for them and help them through their toughest and darkest hours. You will be missed Christina!
What do you call the day your person died? Everyone seems to have a little bit different belief in what they call it. I call ours an "Angelversary"; some may not like that because their belief may not be the same as some. A lot of people call it the "Death Anniversary" or simply say "The day my person died". No matter what you call it, it still a very hard day full of emotions.
A lot of times the day itself isn't hard, it's the days leading up to it that really put you in a funk, a really sad and emotional funk. A lot of times people may not even understand what is happening to them and feel like they are losing control of their grief journey, then they realize that the impending "death date" is coming.
How do you honor your love one who has died? Some people celebrate the life by doing something their loved one did or going out to eat/drink to their special someones favorite restaurant and eating their favorite food and drink. Sometimes its a day of reflection and self pampering for the person left behind and sometimes having no plans and just staying in bed grieving is what some people have to do to get through that day and that is all totally okay too. I had a friend once tell me that it was okay for me to be in this grief funk, but I wasn't allowed to stay in for too long. I always held onto that because she was aware of my feelings having also been a widow, but she knew I needed the day to just remember and be sad, but she was going to make sure that in a few days, I was getting back to a more stable ground.
Our first year after Garret died we celebrated the heck out that sweet little boy of mine. I bought "living" butterflies and had them shipped to our house a few days before his angelversary which is June 27th. We planned our pastor to come and meet us at the cemetery with 60 of our closest family and friends joining us up there. Everyone received a butterfly that was packaged in this little triangle flat box. At once after the pastors words and prayer, we opened them all together and we had butterflies flying all around us and landing on the headstone and it was a very beautiful and special moment. We then had everyone come back to our house and we bought pizza for everyone and we had a party. When the evening became dark, we put on the biggest and best fireworks show for everyone and for our angel Garret to witness from above. So you can see, you can have a grand remembrance on the anniversary or you can do nothing at all, just remember it's okay to do whatever you want.
For Jack's angelversary, we usually try to eat something that he loved and we always have to choke down a Miller Lite, it was his favorite beverage of choice. We do the same for my brother, not necessarily the beer choice but our family tries to usually go out to eat together to honor his memory.
However you choose to celebrate, honor, or just recognize your loved one who has died, know that it's right for you, do whatever you want and know you are allowed to also do nothing. Don't let anyone tell you differently or that you are doing it wrong. Give yourself grace upon grace for that day and journal about all the feelings you are feeling. It's important to have your words in writing so you can look back on them years down the road and see how far you have come on this grief journey.
This is the topic this week because next week on February 8th it will be Jack's 14th angelversary. Some days it seems really incredible that he's been gone that long, sometimes it feels like it hasn't been long at all. It is definitely strange to see how my life has evolved over the years and where I am at today and to think what my life would have been like if Jack hadn't died. I love my life now, I love my husband Chantz, I love what we've built together. BUT, I'd be lying if I didn't say that I do miss Jack, I miss the things he has missed like our daughter growing up, or missing him helping with his parents and all that goes along with what's happening there. I miss his humor, I miss his belly laughs, and I miss his dedication to life & friends. Death really makes you think about so many crazy things in life and I've always hated dates, probably because I have way too many on the calendar. Jack died the same month he was born, so did Garret, so did my sis -n- law; it's strange to think about that.
We kept a caring bridge page for Jack's cancer journey and I will continue to share words I wrote, but also words Jack himself wrote. I'd like to share what I wrote the day he died:
"Words cannot express the gratitude that I have for everyone out there today. Thank you so very much for the kind words of support, encouragement, and love for our family and especially Jack.
Jack walked from this earth to his heavenly earth with such dignity and grace. His presence is missed greatly already. I was blessed to have known Jack for most of my life, having a crush on each other in 7th & 6th grades, spending high school years together and then being reunited after I graduated from high school to be able to spend the rest of his life with me. Jack and I have been married 12 1/2 years,together officially as a couple for almost 19 years and they have been the best years of my life. He was a wonderful husband, father, son, brother and friend. They don't make guys like Jack that often, who can pull together people and create and outstanding friendship that can last a lifetime. I was blessed that Jack and I had so many up and downs in our lives and we only grew stronger with each hurdle. Our love for each other never skipped a beat and we knew that whatever happened each one of us would be there at the end of the day. Graci was lucky to have a daddy that loved her like no other. Jack & Graci had a special bond that even I can't understand, but I hope and pray he taught her the way to live life.
Jack fought the toughest fight out there and he fought it hard for 16 months. Unfortunately our time was cut way too short, but even shorter when we were told in the beginning of December that he had 6-12 months left; he only made it 2 months. Jack never gave up hope, even in his last days. Even as of Thursday, Jack told me that all he wanted was for his legs to work...he wasn't even thinking that this could be the end. This morning I told Jack that I loved him and he could give up his fight and go be with our son. That is the ultimate gift for his hard fight for life and his love for life. I can just picture Garret racing to his daddy with his arms open wide and Jack scooping him up and they will have picked up without even skipping a beat. I am happy to know that Jack and Garret will get to celebrate Jack's upcoming birthday on the 20th of February in heaven together.
As of right now the funeral services will be set for Thursday and visitation for Wednesday. We will post more of the details after we visit with the funeral home in the morning.
Thank you again for all the prayers...we are doing the best we can at this time. I am hoping with a peaceful night sleep I will be able to focus a little better tomorrow."
With so much love ~
Thank You for letting me share this journey of grief, but also thank you for listening to me and letting me also teach you some ways of grieving on your journey as well. I will always say that we are ALL "better together".