June. Graduation season is wrapping up and wedding season is about to be in full swing. We’ve passed Mother’s Day and still have Father’s Day coming up. During all of these events that are full of changes and excitement, my mind always seems to think about the people that missing in the crowd at these events. These events are supposed to be full of joy, but there will be moments in these days that we cannot help but think about the missing loved ones.
I have a distinct memory from my graduation from my Masters’ program from SMU that will always stay with me full of missing people. Before the graduates started to cross the stage to get our diplomas, the President of the University told us to look into the crowd above us in the stands. He asked the parents of the graduates to stand so we could applaud them for their constant support to get us to this moment. I had no parents in the crowd. Not because they had missed their flight or had been caught in holiday traffic, because they are no longer here on earth. I had to try to keep my composure since I was sitting next to someone I didn’t know, but it was hard. I just wanted to run out of the arena and cry. They weren’t there and I hadn’t even thought about it until that moment. On one of the happiest days in my life, and one of the most significant in my career, I was incredibly sad in that moment.
After the clapping slowed down, the President then asked for the spouses to stand in the audience. I knew exactly where my fiancé was sitting, and I quickly turned my head to watch him hesitantly stand. I clapped as hard as I could. I couldn’t holler or cheer because tears were still streaming down my face, but how lucky was I to have him in the crowd.
This moment hit me out of nowhere, as is normal when we are grieving. There are going to be times that we are so happy at these big occasions and something can trigger our grief emotions. Knowing what is going to work for you to help calm your grief monster down is the key in these events. Sometimes, they are preventative coping skills. I, for one, could not bear to watch father-daughter dances before I was married. A year after my father died, I did not know that this was going to be one of my triggers until we were at a friend’s wedding and I lost it during the dance. She and I came up with a plan to bail to the bathroom when we knew the dance was coming.
Whether it’s a graduation, wedding, or other accomplishment, you have worked hard for and deserve to have a day that you enjoy. I encourage you during whatever big events are coming up for you if you are missing someone, embrace it. Find a moment during the day for you to catch your breath on your own where you can be allowed to feel feelings. Tell those around you that you may need an extra hug or to bail to the bathroom when things get tough. I hope that you may still find joy in the events to come.