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My first birthday without my son

It was my birthday last week. The first since my son, Sean, died. The 18th since my mum died. The 26th since dad - and so many friends who once would never have missed my birthday. I was grateful for all the people who sent me birthday wishes, checked up on me, made sure I was ok. 

How we deal with these events without those people we love will differ greatly from person to person as everybody grieves differently. I chose to try to keep the day in much the same way as I would have done if my son had been alive. I still have another son and we both deserve to celebrate our lives, although we will never be the same again. Death shapes our lives in ways that we can't imagine until we experience it. By going out for dinner on my birthday, we were not forgetting Sean but remembering him and, at the same time, honouring ourselves for taking steps to rebuild our lives.

Although this may seem strange to some, I bought myself a birthday present from Sean. I think it is something he might have got me. He was always thoughtful and generous with his gifts, a trait he got from my mother. I saw it in a shop window and it reminded me of him. It felt right to me to get it. 

There is no right or wrong way to mark these days. Planning the day ahead often helps. Some people find that breaking with tradition and doing something completely different helps them through while others find peace in the familiar routines. Next year I may choose to do something completely different. 


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