When you are coping with loss, anniversaries can be agonizing. Those red-letter dates – birthdays, first-time-we-met, holidays etc. - loom up on the calendar, setting your feelings on edge and maybe even filling you with dread. But there are ways to manage, and even to enjoy, days that you used to share. Follow these five pointers, to make it through.
1) DON’T EVEN THINK OF TRYING TO BE BRAVE.
Give yourself permission in advance to find the anniversary upsetting. Remember also that sometimes the time leading up to the day can be the hardest, and most poignant, for around now you might have been making plans and anticipating. Take a day off work and leave difficult tasks for another time. Some people feel they need to be distracted and keep busy, but isn’t that likely to store up trouble for later? Be honest with yourself and do what’s going to be best in the long term. You may need time for a good cry, or space to get angry. Of course the emotions will be difficult, but they will pass.
2) CELEBRATE THE DAY.
Your loved one wont be with you in the flesh, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate. Light a special candle and place photos around it. Go to a place you used to love to be together. Fill your heart with happy memories, if you can, and if you can’t, remember crying is healthy.
3) DON’T FEEL YOU HAVE TO GO IT ALONE.
One of the best ways to mark anniversaries is to get together with others and reminisce. Hopefully your companions will have known your loved one. Laugh, cry and talk it all through, saying how you feel, what your regrets may be, your fears are for the future, and your hopes. So much the better if the people you are talking to have had similar experiences. If all else fails, our sympathetic readers at The Circle can help you with the burdens.
4) HAVE A TREAT.
Would your loved one have bought you a gift, at this time? Why not buy yourself something – it’s what they would want and you know it comes with their love. This could be something like a pot plant, or precious stone. Try to chose an object that has symbolic meaning, such as rose quartz for affection. Or you might like a soft scarf to wear, like a gentle touch, or perfume. Give yourself time to choose, and give yourself permission also to change your mind – what feels comforting at one moment may be ‘too much’ the next. It’s all part of the process.
5) HAVE SOME THERAPY.
Grief really is like an illness. Sometimes, if you focus on your sensations, rather than on concepts like ‘never coming back’ ‘nothing I can do’, you can open the way to recovery. Grief sensations can include physical weakness, nausea, vertigo etc. On your anniversary day, book yourself a massage, spa day, acupuncture, hypnotherapy or whatever appeals. Allow yourself to be soothed and calmed inside. Believe it or not, relaxing can make you feel closer to your loved one.
In time anniversaries will become less challenging, and you will find it easier to feel positive, for they are occasions when you can be closer once more to that special person who will always be in your heart.
PUBLISHED: 01 February 2014