Honoring the Birthday of a Friend
The grieving process is a journey. Every journey of life is heavy and burdensome at times. It also has vast highs with laughs, good times, and smiles. As well as everything in-between. When we form friendships the potential, nay inevitability, is there for troughs and valleys. Intellectually we know those heavy times are temporary. There is an ebb and flow and we know we are not alone in the process.
Sandy Jane Leifer is the friend central to a deeper understanding of that for me. You no doubt have someone else in mind. The memories we have of our friends, like Sandy, the times we spent, and ohhh those stories are integral to our lives. By remembering a friend that has passed or by taking some action to honor his or her birthday we keep those memories alive. Sandy was a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. A gentle, strong, and down-to-earth spirit with a memorable giggle and laugh. How fitting she continues to teach and be an example for others. The memories we have of our friends, the relationships, and legacies we built with those that have passed on are blessings.
In “Thanksgiving”, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, For love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.” Forming friendships with great people produces many gifts. Taking time to recognize those gifts may be something you wish to do too. Sandy gave me a plant when my grandmother died. A Dragon Tree. This was at the beginning of our friendship. Over the years the small Dragon Tree, resembling a palm, grew and grew. It grew strong and tall over time, as the years progressed, over holidays, challenging days at work, dinners of the month, and fun times out. The Dragon Tree, as Sandy, has been strong, amazing, and graceful in the face of harsh weather, drought, and hard rains. A year ago though the Dragon Tree was looking weary. And Sandy passed away. In a turn of events, this month, Sandy’s birthday month, the Dragon Tree sprouted anew. No doubt you have many wonderful stories of your loved one as well.
“We cannot count our friends, nor say How many praise us day by day. Each one of us has friends that he Has yet to meet and really know, Who guard him, wheresoe'er they be, From harm and slander's cruel blow. They help to light our path with cheer, Although they pass as strangers here.” This verse from Edgar A. Guest’s “The Unknown Friend” is a reminder that friendship is a journey. Friendship is a teacher. By honoring our friends and their birthdays we show appreciation for those lessons. Every friendship is different and can be honored in a different manner. Sandy loved dolphins. They were her sign. These majestic aquatic animals have streamlined bodies, are highly social, and energetically jump and play. Today I am honoring Sandy’s birthday by walking down to the beach to look for dolphins.
The following activities may be ways you wish to honor your friend on his or her birthday.
1. Get your mind and body quiet to take a precious moment to remember your friend.
2. Visit the family of your friend, send a card, a special treat, or make a phone call to send your love.
3. Visit your friend’s grave on your own or with other friends. You may also wish to ask if any of the family members would also like to attend.
4. Plant a tree or flowers in memory of your friend.
5. Take action. Volunteer for a charity or foundation that your friend supported or that is related to your friend’s passing.
6. Donate to a charity or foundation. For example, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
7. Read. The grieving process requires us to be mindful of ourselves and others going through the steps as well. Seek professional literature and services as required from a doctor, psychologist, or clergyman. Take heart in knowing the stress subsides over time and in knowing healing and reconciliation awaits, “and I heard a great voice out of the heaven, saying, `Lo, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and He will tabernacle with them, and they shall be His peoples, and God Himself shall be with them -- their God, and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and the death shall not be any more, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor shall there be any more pain, because the first things did go away.’” (Revelation 21:3-4)
Today, I honor Sandy’s birthday by looking for those magical dolphins at the beach and by making a donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
“At BCRF, we have one driving goal: to double the rate of progress towards longer lives and better outcomes. To double our annual investment in innovative research. To double down on our promise to be the end of breast cancer. Your generous gift advances the world's most promising research, bringing us one step closer to achieving our goal. It also supports more than 250 scientists around the globe as they pursue research that will accelerate progress and transform lives.”
Credits: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson, Collected Verse of Edgar Guest NY:Buccaneer Books, 1976, 16, file:///Downloads/178_What%20About%20Death%20and%20Dying.PDF