The word anniversary
takes on a whole new meaning for anyone grieving the loss of a loved one. Although an anniversary date is any meaningful date to you and the one you’ve lost, the hardest anniversary date is usually the one that commemorates the day of the death.
For me, the anniversary date of the death of my late husband was never as bad as I thought it was going to be. Early on, each year, it would be the couple of weeks that led up to the anniversary that always knocked me for a loop. Surprisingly, I never realized how stressed I was until after the day had passed.
For women, I would liken it to the two weeks before your period; you may not realize how emotional you are until after you get your period. Then, in retrospect, you think back about how you were acting during that time and realize your emotions were on high alert. To put this in perspective for men -- you should know better than to go near a woman when she is experiencing Pre-Menstrual Syndrome!
Personally, I think it is more the anticipation of “the day” than the day itself. It is about reliving those last moments, or, if the death was unexpected, thinking about how you might have lived those last couple of weeks/months differently. I found this time period just burdened with regrets and lots of what-ifs.
By the time the actual anniversary day rolls around, it is almost a relief to know you just have one more day to get through and then you have a fresh year in front of you. I suggest that you allow yourself this space and time to fully grieve. And then, when the day is past, face the next year with renewed determination to live each day to its maximum potential.
To many, the one year anniversary seems to hold the most importance, and, I agree, it is a very significant date. It is a marker of all that you have accomplished by yourself. You have managed to cope with all the seasons of the year and the hard days they have brought; you have made independent decisions; you have supported your family financially and emotionally; and you have grown more than you can imagine.
But, please, don’t be fooled that at one year all your grief will magically dissipate, and you will be ready to completely move on with your life.
I think the cliché “time heals all wounds
” is a little misleading. Does it mean that in one year, or two or five, that you will not miss your loved one or feel the pain of his/her absence? I don’t think so.
Grief is never totally
dissolved. Don’t expect to wake up one morning and feel like you did before your loss. That is not possible, for you are changed forever (and not necessarily in a bad way). What time does is give you more perspective. I have found that it also does dissolve the actual physical hurt that you feel inside. It gives you the option of deciding when you will feel your grief and when you can compartmentalize it -- that is, put it away for a while and deal with the present.
Try to keep in mind that it is what you do to help yourself during the passage of time that determines the pace of your grief journey.
Ellen Gerst is a Life Coach specializing in grief and relationships and the author of several books on grief, including "A Practical Guide to Widow/erhood," born out of Ellen's own experiences as a young widow; 101 Tips and Thoughts on Coping with Grief, an easy-to read reference guide filled with suggestions for every day use on moving through the grief journey; and "Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story." "Love After Loss" is a blueprint on how to use her successful method to redesign your life to include a new love connection after the loss of a partner. Connect with Ellen on Facebook at Love After Loss (for daily relationship tips) and on Thin Threads of Grief & Renewal (for inspirational coping with grief thoughts). Click for more information on grief related services and books..