If you have lost someone near and dear to you, it is undeniable that when an anniversary of their passing comes up, it can be a really rough and rocky time. Today I want to share a few insights and a few tips for any of you who may have that situation going on.
This is something that I know about professionally, but truth be told this is something that I was forced to live through personally a number of years ago when my brother Jake passed away from cancer.
The first thing that I find difficult about grief anniversaries is that there can be elements of that time of year that become triggers in and of themselves for the traumatic portions of what you went through losing your loved ones. Those elements of the time of year whether it’s what you were doing last Memorial Day or whatever it might be, can re-boot some of the trauma that you may have been through causing it to feel more raw than it may have in a little while.
For example, I have always loved spring and lilac blossoms. One spring my brother was terminally ill and we were in and out of hospitals which are these awful, sterile environments where my heartbreak and my tragedy was unfolding as we were losing him. The sidewalks were lined with lilac blossoms. Come the following spring, not only was he gone, and I was having to cope without him, but it was the lilac blossoms themselves that became a trigger for me and reminded me of everything the previous year had contained.
The second thing that can be really challenging about grief anniversaries and special milestones is that they can really stir up SUGS. SUG is a sudden up burst of grief. Maybe you were doing alright, maybe you had your bearings and then wham! It feels like a tsunami wave of grief hits you and bolls you down. That is very often the case when it come to grief anniversaries.
My personal and professional advice is to allow the wave to knock you over. If you need to stay in bed all day, do it. When we allow those waves to take us down and we tend to our feelings, they tend to pass more quickly. If you’re staying in bed for more than 7 days in a row, I want you to give me a call, but if you find yourself really dysfunctional for a short period of time, that’s okay.
The third thing that can be really challenging about a grief anniversary is this passage of time that has occurred since you lost your loved one. There is this part of you that is still alive and is therefore moving forward in time, but then there’s also this part of you that still wants to rewind and go back to the moment that you lost them and go back to all of the dreams and visions that you had in mind of the life that you were going to have with them.
Finally, you may have noticed that our society has a teeny-weeny short attention span for grief, and really, for pain in general. So, by the time a grief anniversary comes around, you may be feeling like you have less support and community than what you would like. Our society uses really awful terms to refer to grief like “oh, she’s STILL grieving,” implying that your grief should have an end or that you should be over it by now, both of which are actually complete BS. Be on the lookout for the way that society is or is not acknowledging how much pain you’re still experiencing. That can potentially make an anniversary even harder on you.
I would encourage all of you to reach out for support, to dig into your spirituality, however it is that you define that, and to create meaningful rituals around the time of your loved ones’ anniversary of their passing. If you’re looking for a supportive read, my new favorite book is called “It’s OK That You’re Not OK” by Megan Devine. That can be a really beneficial support as well.
If you’re needing some extra support right now, please come in and see us. CLICK HERE to get your free initial consultation scheduled.