Regardless of how many years pass following a loved one’s death, the day on which he or she died is usually remembered in our hearts and minds. Even many years later, it’s common to re-experience the anguish of sadness on the actual anniversary date, or before or after, but the following tips can help you manage.
The anniversary of someone’s death is a sad occasion, and we may be at a loss for words as to how to console our friends. You can click this link to learn about some death anniversary quotes.
What is a Grief Response to an Anniversary?
An anniversary grieving reaction happens when a person re-experiences the impacts of loss in the weeks or months leading up to, on, or even after a loved one’s death. While an anniversary reaction is usual on the first anniversary of a death, you may have one many years later, long after coping with the sadness you had in the aftermath of losing a loved one and feeling that things have returned to normal.
The effects of an anniversary grief response, also known as an anniversary grief reaction, anniversary response, or reawakened grief, can include increased feelings of sadness, loss, depression, loneliness, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, or anger, as well as physical symptoms like sleeplessness, lack of appetite, difficulty concentrating, or an increase in distressing memories, among other things.
Furthermore, an anniversary grief response can occur without warning as a result of an unconsciously perceived “trigger,” such as hearing a specific song, coming across a forgotten photograph, smelling perfume or cologne you associate with your loved one, attending a funeral or memorial service for someone else, or seeing a scene in a movie… or in a variety of other ways.
How to Handle an Anniversary Grief Reaction
If you’re worried that you won’t be able to forget about your deceased loved one as the anniversary of his or her death approaches — or if you’re already experiencing some of the effects listed above — the suggestions below may be helpful.
Recognize and Respect Grief’s Power
Many people mistake sorrow for a single emotion, but it is a complex, varied response to the death of a loved one that can affect us physically, emotionally, cognitively, and even spiritually. As previously stated, grief is often persistent, and you may find yourself experiencing the impacts of death with their original rawness and strength, regardless of how long ago it occurred.
Instead of denying or avoiding your anniversary grieving response, accept it as a natural and appropriate reaction to the death of someone you care about, no matter how long ago it occurred. Grief is not an adversary to be avoided at all costs, and you should not feel obligated to “get over it by now.” Remember the words from the 1968 Broadway comedy I Never Sang for My Father: “Death ends a life, but it does not terminate a relationship.” The person who died was vital to you and your life in many ways.
Make “Memory Time” a priority.
If you’re concerned that you won’t be able to forget about your deceased loved one on the anniversary of his or her death, you should first realise that you won’t be able to and shouldn’t even attempt. Rather than allowing dread and fear of remembering your loved one to control your actions and feelings, take control by planning for the anniversary and including his or her remembrance in your activities.
This can be accomplished by actively scheduling “memory time” into your day(s) – a time when you permit yourself to grieve openly in whatever way you need, whether alone or with those who knew and loved the departed. It’s entirely up to you when and how often you do it; it might be for an hour, an evening, or an entire day on the anniversary day itself, or before and/or after. You are the only one who knows how your anniversary sadness impacts you and what you need to cope with.
It’s also up to you who you spend your recollection time with. If you want to be alone with your memories and feelings and cry, go ahead. If you’d like relatives or friends to join you in sharing your best memories, let them know that you’re going through a tough period and would welcome their company. Regardless of how and when you spend your remembering time, especially if the anniversary falls on a holiday, mourners typically find that planning can help them face their dread of being blindsided by their sadness at inconvenient times.
Find a way to divert your attention away from yourself
Make preparations to keep yourself busy before, on, or after the anniversary of your loved one’s death, in addition to scheduling recollection time(s). Only you know how your anniversary grief response will affect you, but sadness usually hits us hardest when we’re alone with our thoughts and nothing to do. If you’re worried this will happen, remember that there’s nothing wrong with doing something just to take your mind off your loss, even if it’s only for an hour or two.
For other mourners, simply going out of the house for a walk around the neighbourhood, riding a bike in a nearby park, or running errands can be enough to help them get through the hardest periods when their grief would otherwise overwhelm them. Some people find that inviting a friend out for coffee or dinner can help them clear their heads and gain a new perspective. Others just immerse themselves in a beloved pastime or domestic chore(s) to channel their grief’s energy and reap the benefits of the positive feeling of accomplishment.
Whatever activity you choose, keep in mind that your anniversary grief response is very real and that adequately coping with the death of a loved one is typically measured day by day, or even hour by hour. Grief is exhausting, so do whatever you need to do right now to cope.
Establish a Custom
The rush of now-painful memories on or near the date of death (which some refer to as the “deathversary”) can be one of the most difficult parts of coping with an anniversary grief response. During this time, it’s common to reflect on previous pleasant or memorable holidays — such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, anniversaries, and other key occasions — and realise that your loved one will no longer be a part of them.