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Recognizing non-standard life events

I see a LOT more non-standard circumstances that call for recognition than standard ones (both happy occasions and sad ones and ambivalent ones), and I think the more people get creative in honoring the non-standard circumstances, the better off the world is.

I said "reconition" rather than "celebrate" because a lot of the things I have in mind wouldn't be "celebrated" per se, although honoring the good parts of them would sometimes be part of the recognition.

One thing that bothers me about a lot of standard recognition rituals is that they don't make room for the "wrong" emotions. At a wedding, you have to be happy. At a funeral, you have to be sad. You're not allowed to talk about being sad at a marriage or happy at the death of a loved one, even though you might well be feeling such things.

  • Death of a pet
  • Deaths of people who aren't immediate family -- you might attend the funeral but that's pretty much all the mourning you're allowed publicly.
  • A divorce coming through.
  • Breaking up with a partner. (Often there is a lot of spontaneous support around this but not necessarily formal recognition per se.)
  • Anniversaries of deaths-of-loved-ones, divorces, or break-ups. (We publicly celebrate the anniversaries of births and ongoing relationships, but not the anniversaries of endings, even though we darn well *feel* the anniversaries of endings.)
  • Anniversaries of relationships that don't look "spousal." How about celebrating the anniversary of being single? Celebrating theanniversaries of friendships?
  • Moving out of an old home.
  • Having a parent or child or roommate move in or out of your home.
  • Our bodies (hey, we celebrate ongoing relationships with other people, what about ongoing relationships with our own bodies?, specifically:
    • Start of menstruation.
    • First gray hairs.
    • Menopause.
  • Surgery. (Undergoing surgery via general anesthesia is like dying and being resurrected!)
  • Ending or starting a job (sometimes there is recognition of *getting* a job but not so much around starting a job).


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 23rd, 2001 02:41 am (UTC)
Informal celebrations
What I do is make a note of it in my journal and maybe go out to a nice meal if I can afford it and the anniversery is special enough. 1987-90 were special years for me, although mostly in a negative way. I marked the occasion by remembering what I was doing 10 years ago that month. Finally passing the end of the anniversery of that time was actually kind of liberating. As to formal, culturally approved ways of marking those oddball occasions, I personally think the beauty of those oddball occasions is that you can feel/do anything you want and no one will condemn you for it.
Mar. 23rd, 2001 11:35 am (UTC)
Re: Informal celebrations
I like your "remembering 10 years ago" ritual.

I agree that if it's oddball you can do it the way you want.

I think some people want recognition from others as well as from themselves, though.
Mar. 23rd, 2001 12:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Informal celebrations
As to other people recognizing the anniversery, well, there are people for whom that sort of thing matters and there are those for whom it does not. I might be the type who would remember the N year anniversary of a relationship's first date, but I might have a sweetie that counter to the stereotype, does not. I wouldn't feel crushed if they didn't. I take great pains to orient myself in time, with detailed records of the past and meticulous projections into the future. Not everyone is like that, and I would not impose my worldview on the unwilling.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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