Yesterday was the first anniversary of my father's death.
I took myself out for the day to a local tourist attraction where there are loads of animals and really fun and interesting stuff to do. I've been there before and had promised myself a trip there this summer but hadn't managed to.
I had a lovely day meeting the animals, getting hands on with many animals, feeding them and having fun being so close with them. It brought out the gentle, nurturing side of my personality and was fun! My day also included 2 falconry + birds of prey displays, watching goat walking (which was hilarious when one got free and had loads of fun dodging everyone who tried to catch it!), ferret racing and going on the deer train to get up close and very personal to deer and llamas.
I took a shed load of photos of the day and the weather was very kind to me. I had a goat attempt to eat the top of one sleeve of my t-shirt while I petted his mate!! I got chased by a gaggle of geese. I was followed very closely by 2 gorgeous white ponies as I walked around their large pen - I think they were unconvinced that I really had run out of food for them - I had 2 other bags in my rucksack which they must have been able to smell but of course I wanted to share the food around all the animals there!
It was a wonderful day. It was so much fun. I really enjoyed myself although the shadow of what the day was hung around me throughout.
The night before wasn't very wonderful - it was awful actually!
When I woke that morning I felt so rough I didn't want to face the world.
As I headed home to watch the snooker I'd recorded throughout the day I knew I was going home to face my pain, grief and loss too!
And today is very hard too!!
There are 3 aspects to anniversaries that I've discovered this year - there is the build up, the preparation I need to do beforehand in order to get through the anniversary - there is the day itself which has to be got through as well as possible - and then there is the reaction to it, which tends to be the hardest aspect of all!
I had prepared myself well for this anniversary. During the 3 weeks leading up to it I worked hard in therapy and counselling on what issues came up and needed addressing about my father, what he did and so on.
The day itself I was determined to give myself as much fun and gentle activity as possible so it could go as well as possible. I was also determined to give myself, as far was possible, some really good memories.
And now I am dealing with reaction which may take quite a while to settle down. But that's ok. I expect it will settle in time for me to be able to head off on my trip to the French Alps in a couple of weeks or so in a more settled place, emotionally and psychologically!
The big difference for me is now that I recognise those three stages and I accept them rather than give myself a hard time over it all!
And that makes the BIGGEST difference of all and really helps my healing processes!!