Things that helped me get through the first time my daughter wasn’t alive to celebrate her birthday:
Read and appreciated messages of support from friends and family.
Worked. This included completing some anxiety-producing reports I’d been putting off.
Invited people to a dedication celebration in Constance’s memory.
Took medication and enough vitamins to make my mom ask, “Do you ever consume nutrients in food form?”
Ran errands while speaking in a voice so high pitched that only dolphins and dogs could hear it.
Worked out on a stationary bike while trying not to draw parallels between it and the futility of life.
Sent a congratulatory gift to friends who just had a baby suppressing the instinct to write on the card, “No really, I am happy for you.”
Allowed my mind to stall at inconvenient places like an old car on the exit ramp of a highway.
Ignored that there’s a sinkhole in my stomach of Alice in Wonderland proportions and ate all of the food in Chicago.
Debated if it is a sign of affection or appropriation when other people post on their social media about how terrible their loss of my daughter was for them. I suppose that depends on the person.
Watched a horror movie recommended to me on a feminist blog. Horror is my least favorite genre because I can’t stomach gore, so I spent most of the movie covering my face or completely leaving the room. The catharsis of screaming was productive.
Found other ways to distract myself from the pain like getting waxed.
Imagined all of Constance’s wonderful characteristics as a different blossom on a large Rose of Sharon bush. I thought of how she bloomed for the whole world to see. Then I cried, and cried, and cried.
I hope this helps you with your grief or assists you in supporting someone with theirs in the future.