How to Handle the Anniversary of a Death

Anniversary of a DeathFew people are mentally prepared to say goodbye to their loved one when the time comes. Often, death is sudden and unexpected. But even when you have had time to prepare yourself and come to terms with a death before it occurs, you will never feel particularly celebratory when the anniversary of the death draws near. For many, it is a day filled with dread and sadness.

In the year following the death of someone you love, it is common to alternate between feeling like they were just there a minute ago, to feeling like they have been gone for a lifetime. It can seem as though life is continuing on while you are frozen in place. As you grieve, you are constantly forced to make decisions like what to do with the belongings your loved one left behind and what traditions to continue without them. How to handle the anniversary of a death is just like the other difficult decisions you have been forced to make following a loss.

So, what are some ways to acknowledge a day that reminds you of such sadness? What are ways you can focus on their life instead of your loss? The answers to these questions lie within you and no one else. If you are interested in doing something to acknowledge the anniversary of a death in a small or a large way, consider these suggestions:

  • Take flowers to the gravesite, memorial site, or other place where you go to remember your loved one
  • Plan a memorial service or candle light vigil
  • Reach out to someone else who is grieving the loss via letter, phone call, e-mail, or social media
  • Take a trip you have been planning or dreaming about
  • Treat yourself to a massage or anything that makes you feel pampered
  • Read old notes, letters, or emails from your loved one
  • Watch their favorite movie
  • Donate a few of your loved one’s old belongings to a shelter or charity, or make a charitable donation in their name
  • Build a memorial with portraits and personal object that remind you of them

Of course, people will have different opinions regarding how to approach the anniversary of a death. Some members of your family may want to do something, while others are more comfortable going about the day like any other.

Most of all, when approaching the anniversary of the death, it is important to acknowledge your feelings and look within yourself to find what actions feel right. Remember, there is no right way or wrong way to grieve. Your grief process is as unique as you are.

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