Coping With a Grief Anniversary: 7 Tips

By: Anthony Centore Ph.D.  (Guest Blogger)

The anniversary of a loss is one of the most difficult times we experience after a loss. Each year, we are reminded of our loss. It is not uncommon to experience a reoccurrence of our grief. This experience commonly referred to as the “grief anniversary” can be unsettling and confusing, especially when we are sure we have grieved and moved forward into our new lives.
     Knowing that the anniversary is coming can evoke feelings of dread and fear. While it is not an easy time, there are things you can do to cope with the anniversary and the feelings that may arise. Here are seven counselor approved tips.
Coping With the Grief Anniversary
1. Build Comfort and Support into the Day – Having support on that day can be comforting. Reach out to close friends and relatives for support. Let them know ahead of time that the day might be hard for you. Plan to spend some time with them.
2. Choose to Remember the Day – It is easier to cope with feelings and memories if we expect them and choose them. Plan an activity/time (or even the day) to remember your loved one. Acknowledge your emotions. They are all valid and important.
3. Acknowledge that Recurrence of Grief is Normal – We never truly stop grieving. The intensity softens over time and we learn to find meaning in our new lives. We go on. Anniversaries, holidays or other special times may trigger a reoccurrence of your grief. It is a normal part of grieving and loss. Know that it can happen and that there is nothing wrong with you.
4. Find Comfort Helping Others – One very powerful way to cope with an anniversary is to do something in memory of your loved one. He/she may have had a favorite charity. Can you volunteer your time? Doing something that was important to your loved one can bring feelings of closeness and comfort to you.
5. Visit A Special Place – Visit a place that was special to your loved one. It might be a museum, a secret fishing hole, a favorite restaurant. Let yourself recall the warm memories and feelings associated with this place.
6. Take a Private Moment – Take a moment during the day to remember your loved one, say a prayer or just speak what’s on your heart. You can acknowledge the pain but also remember to acknowledge the happy memories and the strength you’ve gained as a result of the loss.
7. Create a Ritual or Tradition – Start a tradition or ritual that you can use to mark the grief anniversary each year. It may be a trip to a favorite restaurant. It may be a toast to your loved one. It may be the family getting together to celebrate the person’s life. A remembrance tradition can be whatever it is that brings you comfort in remembering.
When Is Recurrent Grief A Problem?
     The grief anniversary or even the anticipation of the anniversary can evoke strong and sometimes overwhelming emotions. This can catch us off guard and be quite distressing.

     The experienced grief counselors at The LifeWorks Group understand recurrent grief. They can help you find healthy ways to cope and get you back on your healing journey. This article was provided by the editorial team at Thriveworks, celebrating the opening of our new Fredericksburg VA Counseling Center.

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