How to Honor a Decade of Loss

Thanks for being here and being part of creating a new culture of grieving. 


I write this with a fresh round of Earth grief as I continue to take in the recent news about forever chemicals in the water.


Sorry if you don’t know that news and now you do.


I feel the need to share it here, as if I’m sitting in circle with you all sharing our sorrows. 


In my last blog I shared how to have a sorrow party-thank you to the ones that hosted these and shared your experiences with me. It delighted my heart to know that we’re changing the culture of grief one sorrow party at a time.


Back to Water and an important message:


One night last week I was awake from 1:30am-3:30am. I was deep in grief and had waves of anxiety about the state of the planet. 


Eventually I fell back asleep only to be awoken at early dawn with a powerful message from my dream—I was looking for my hand drum, a friend of mine was playing it to call the people together. He said loudly, “We must connect with Spirit!” 


I knew I had to go sing and drum to water-to the creeks, rivers and lakes near me. I must sing the river song, the Dagara grief song to water.

Water is grieving and the earth is grieving her waters. We must continue to connect with water, earth and all the elements. 

I felt a renewed sense of purpose to gather near the waters to drum, sing and grieve. 


Later that week, water came to us as we woke up with pouring rain-rare for Colorado! So I grabbed my hand drum, and sang the grief song to the rain on my porch, a lone cricket was my backup singer.


If you’re local, reach out to join me by the river to sing. I would love to teach you this song, and have grief company…a sorrow party.



Now, I want to speak about how to be on the DFD (dreaded fucking day) or the day your soul got that unwanted grief tattoo. 


I wrote two blogs about this early 
on, here’s one here to read: https://betherlander.com/2015/08/27/grief-anniversaries-what-to-do-on-the-day-your-soul-got-that-permanent-tattoo/


But this year is a big one-an entire decade has passed since my partner Michael crashed on his mountain bike leaving him and us with quadriplegia.


How do you celebrate huge mile markers such as this? 


For wedding anniversaries, every ten years you celebrate with silver or gold or other fancy things. We need to have those for these griefiversaries/deathiversaries, right? 


So, how do you honor the passing of a decade?!


As it gets closer to August 27th here’s how I’ll be honoring it and I hope this helps you too with either your DFD or the passing of a decade.


  • I’m giving myself loads of self-compassion. Mid-July I started having anxiety about August. (Often the time leading up to the date is worse than the actual date itself). 


  • I started my strong self-talk, “Yes, dear, that time of year, the hardest thing you’ve ever had to live through is coming. I’ll take care of you, and of course you’re feeling slightly anxious, it still lives in your bones.” 


So, I’m going to be extra gentle on my bones.


  • I’m taking the entire week off to have more spaciousness in my schedule.


  • I’ll spend more time in nature and drop deeper into my prayer and meditation practices. 


  • I’ll take naps and prioritize early evenings in bed with a book. (Currently I’m loving this one: Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigneous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer).


  • I’ve made more time for outings and quality time with Michael as well as a few other dear friends.


Michael and I are still figuring out what we’ll do on the actual day. We’ll probably go spend time near the place where he fell and be intentional and connect to the land. It’s been something we’ve been doing for the past few months. (I’ll share more when we’re ready). 



One of the best things we did for the DFD was we reframed it in 2016 by having our commitment ceremony on that day.

So now the DFD is also the celebration of our love.


(We aren’t allowed to be married because he’d lose his Medicaid insurance, just adding this here because I think more people need to know this).


So if there’s any way you can reframe the day, do so.

It helps to honor BOTH the bitter AND the sweet.  


Recently many of my clients and friends have also been dealing with their DFD’s. 


One did a 3K walk in honor of their loved one and raised funds for a cause.


One also honored a decade of loss this year and they spent more time reflecting on their evolution and how they’ve shifted over these past ten years. I’ve been doing that too. 


Some more DFD ideas:

  • You could have a small gathering of people you’re closest to, ones that’ve been there throughout this decade. You could each share thoughts and insights relating to the loss. 


  • You could write about what you’ve learned, how you’ve changed, what’s the same.


  • Or you could have a larger gathering and simply celebrate the monumental occasion. 


If you need help coming up with ways to honor this day, reach out-you don’t have to do this alone.



Whatever you do on your DFD, remember to have self-compassion, give yourself more spaciousness, add more self-care and breathe-you survived another year or a decade; isn’t that amazing? 


Lastly, I’ll end with one way to work with me:


I’m excited to be starting another round of my Tending the Tenders group-it’s an online support group for therapists and wellness practitioners. Here’s the link for more info: https://betherlander.com/tending-the-tendersgrief-support-for-therapists/


This time there’ll be new material about working with collective and ancestral grief. 

And if you’re a previous Tender you may take the group again. Use coupon code previoustender for $200 off. 

Please spread the word and reach out if you need to chat about whether this group is right for you. I’d be honored to support you.