“Kept by ourselves in silence and apart; the secret anniversaries of the heart” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Grief is a journey that will lead us time and again to the feelings of loss and this is even more pronounced at the approach of special milestones, like the anniversary of a loved one’s passing on. Normally referred to as an anniversary reaction, these feelings may look like a stumbling block but they are a normal part of the grieving process. This reaction may be felt in all parts of one’s self; mind, heart, body and soul. Memories are heightened and feelings will be intensified. It may also seem like you’re re-experiencing in painful detail everything that you went through. During these times, your grief may be brief but markedly reawakened.
Different people respond differently on such an anniversary- some respond only mildly while others have much intense responses. These responses are confirming signs of how important your relationship has been with your loved one and how much their loss has affected you.
Though it can be painful, there are several ways you can deal with these feeling effectively. You have to allow your feeling to flow through you rather than bottling it up inside you and expend all that extra energy in trying to hold those feeling at bay, because that will only add to your stress. Talk or write about what’s happening to you and what your feelings are during these days. Plan a commemoration or ceremony as a way to honor your lost loved one and it doesn’t matter if it’s informal or a small affair. You have to find the time to reflect on the changes the death of your loved one brought about and how much you’ve grown and how much you might still grow.
These anniversaries are to do with the heart, and sometimes they can include wedding anniversaries, birthdays and specific holidays too. They are priceless opportunities for you gather your family and others in your act of remembering your lost loved one. These instances will help you discover your stamina, your courage and most of all, your love. Above all, these times can help your honor your loved one while healing you from within.
What you can do to remember an anniversary of a lost loved one
- Create a physical reminder. One of the best ways to do this is to plant a tree or flower and put a nameplate close by. Or you can place a memorial stone or memorial bench in a park. Installing a fountain, a work of art or bird house is also an excellent way to create a physical reminder.
- Commemorate your loved one’s life with family and friends by hosting a celebration where you can speak about your memories of them, light candles, read poems, release balloons and remember the life your loved one lived.
- Help others in memory of your loved one. Donate to a charity or social cause that they were a part of or do something in the cause of charity that they once did or would have liked to do.
The loss of a loved one will never really leave you; it will resurface again, from time to time, even decades after your loss. But each time you face those feelings of loss and grief, you learn to face them on new terms, with new courage and the pain won’t last long or be as difficult.