Managing an Anniversary of a Loss
I’m writing this on the anniversary of my first son Jeremy’s death. With this being the thirty-second anniversary, I feel well versed on managing them.
Of course I don’t need an anniversary to remember him. He is never forgotten and will always be a part of me, but the day itself holds significance. It is the marker of time passed since his death, a before and after dividing line in my life.
I was aware of his impending anniversary looming but it wasn’t until I noticed the first blossoms on the plum tree this morning that today’s significance registered. It was a bitter sweet moment as I felt a joyful skip in my heart at the blossoming of spring to one of sadness for my loss.
That moment of sadness is a far cry from how I‘ve felt on earlier anniversaries though. The first anniversary was quite momentous, as it usually is for most grievers. The build-up often being worse than the day itself with time spent reliving events, worrying about what to do or how you’ll get through it. It’s natural to feel anxious approaching anything new for the first time because it is unknown. One way of reducing anxiety around that first anniversary in particular, is to make a plan.
Historically, when burial was the norm, there were predetermined rituals for this day. This involved the unveiling of the headstone and a time for family and friends to come together again. It inherently signalled the end of the mourning period and time for the bereaved to re-enter the land of living once again. Times have changed; more than 70% of people choose cremation over burial nowadays with cost being a crucial factor in this. With these changes, we are losing a meaningful ritual that supports the bereaved and the grieving process.
If you don’t have a prescribed religious or cultural way of marking the first anniversary, create your own personal ritual for yourself, as a family or with friends. Prior to the anniversary, think about what you might like to do and have several options in mind. Your ritual doesn’t have to be big or complicated; it can be as simple as lighting a candle. Then give yourself permission to change your mind on the day if you need to. I’m a great believer in doing what feels right on the day but having a plan can help you stay grounded and reduce anxiety during the lead up.
Although thirty-two years sounds like a long time and in some respects it is, in other respects it is no time at all. I remember Jeremy‘s life and that’s the beauty of memories. We can bring our loved ones to mind whenever and wherever we want. In that way, they continue to live within us because the love remains and remembers.
Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality
If you or someone you know would benefit from support leading up to an anniversary and ideas for honouring the day, contact Claire
© Claire Laurenson 2017
This blog is the author’s viewpoint and is not intended to replace professional medical advice.