Six months into wedded bliss I got the worst phone call of my life. My father was being rushed to the hospital in the midst of a cardiac arrest. By the time we got there, we knew the news was not good, when they asked us to wait to speak to a doctor in a small closet of a room. A soft spoken doctor came to break the news that my father, aged 52 had died suddenly, despite any intervention they administered him with. My father who was the love of my life until I met Ji had vanished from this earth in one moment. No warning and no previous health conditions. Not even all the love we felt for him could keep him here. It was devastating. It took me months to regain my strength and re-enter the world again.
As I reflected on our time together, I realized how grateful I felt for having him here for our wedding day. I would of course have to mourn all the other milestones that he would be missing. But this one we shared. It is difficult for me to watch the wedding video but it is a memory I have. As I reflected further I realized there are many women that would have to walk down the aisle without their father or a dear loved one.
Some Ideas on How to Incorporate Your Departed Loved One on Your Special Day
1. Remember that this is your special day
I believe it is just as important to truly celebrate the good times because there are a lot of really sad moments in our lifetime. Resist the urge to have a small celebration or forgo one altogether. You have been through a lot and now more than ever you need support and love being shown your way.
2. Have your mother, brother or any other special male person in your life walk you down the aisle.
Know that it will be emotional for everyone involved especially you, so be gentle with yourself. There is nothing wrong with crying! In fact, under regular circumstances the day is super emotional. You are mixed with feelings of joy and sadness because you also have to let go of the life you had. This moment is also symbolic of letting go of your parents and coming together with your partner. Believe me, even without a death in the family this is something that is not easy for most people to do! It is change after all and all the shifting roles can be a lot to deal with. Whether you are experiencing it personally, or your parents or maybe even your future in laws are. It can be difficult. Let us just say that it is not always easy and smooth all the way anyway.
3. Designate a close friend or family member that you can talk to about all that you are feeling, leading up to the wedding and the day of the wedding.
Make sure the person you choose to speak with makes you feel better, not worse at the end of the conversation. Grieving is really difficult and everyone grieves differently. I found that some people I spoke to about how I felt about losing my Dad could really hold the space to make me feel better. While others really did not. These were still loved ones that didn’t mean to hurt me or make me feel bad, but because of where they were in their journey of the grieving process they could not be there for me in a way that I needed.
4. Seek professional or spiritual guidance
Have someone help you cope with the demands of planning your wedding and grieving your loved one.
5. Do not feel guilty about feeling joyful.
After all, this is one of the most special days of your life. You are about to embark on your new life with the man that will stand by your side through thick and thin. Understand that experiencing the full spectrum of your emotions is also part of the process of grieving and healing.
6. Carry something of your late Father’s with you the day of your wedding.
You can also sew in a picture of your Dad on the inside of your wedding dress.
7. Have your partner wear your Father’s tie or cuff links, or a piece of his jewellery.
I know every time Ji wears my Dad’s cuff links or some of his Polo shirts, it makes me happy. It also gives me a giggle because my Dad’s shirts are a bit too big for Ji.
8. Light a candle or say a prayer at the church, synagogue or place of worship silently or shared with your guests to commemorate your Dad.
9. Designate someone to share some special words about your Dad at the reception.
10. Most important, remember that your Dad is looking down on you and sharing in your special day with love.
Love can never be broken.
Do you have any stories about celebrating your marriage with the memory of a loved one? Please share your experience to help others honor their memory on their special day.