"Rising above the Pain: Empowering Strategies for Dealing with Death Anniversaries"
Dealing with the anniversary of a loved one's death or special days that remind us of them can be incredibly difficult and trigger overwhelming emotions. Instead of "embracing for impact," some people may find it helpful to "run to the days" by preparing and planning for these difficult days in advance. Here are ten examples of ways to prepare and plan for these special days, with a personal model for each:
- Make a plan: Talk to your therapist, trusted friend, or family member about how you're feeling, and plan how you want to spend the day. (Personal example: I make a plan with my therapist on how to spend the anniversary of my wife's death, such as visiting her favorite spot and having a picnic with her favorite food)
- Reach out for support: Let your loved ones know that the day is coming and that you may need extra help. (Personal example: I reach out to my closest friends and family members and let them know that the anniversary of my child's death is coming up and that I may need extra support)
- Find a way to honor and remember: You can light a candle, write a letter, donate, or plant a tree in memory of your loved one. (Personal example: I plant a tree every year on the anniversary of my husband's death to honor and remember him)
- Find a distraction: Plan an activity that you enjoy or will take your mind off the anniversary, like going for a hike, having a picnic, or taking a day trip. (Personal example: I plan a day trip to a nearby city with my friends to take my mind off the anniversary of my sister's death)
- Volunteer or help others: Many people find that volunteering or helping others can be a great way to take their minds off their pain and find a sense of purpose and meaning. (Personal example: I volunteer at a homeless shelter on the anniversary of my mother's death to help others and to find a sense of purpose)
- Get physical: Engage in physical activities like exercise or yoga, which can help you cope with difficult emotions and reduce stress. (Personal example: I go for a run on the anniversary of my father's death, as it helps me to cope with my emotions and reduce stress)
- Self-care: Make sure to take care of yourself and practice self-care, such as eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities that make you happy. (Personal example: I make sure to take a bubble bath, read a book and have a healthy meal on the anniversary of my partner's death to take care of myself)
- Acknowledge the day and Allow yourself to acknowledge the day and the feelings that come with it; it's okay to feel sad or overwhelmed. (Personal example: I allow myself to feel and acknowledge the sadness and overwhelming emotions on the anniversary of my best friend's death)
- Create a new tradition: Create a new tradition, such as visiting a new place, trying a recent activity, or spending time with loved ones. (Personal example: I start a new tradition of going to a different country every year on the anniversary of my grandfather's death to explore new places)
- Seek professional help: If you find that the anniversary of a loved one's death is too challenging to cope with, seek professional help from a therapist or counselor. (Personal example: I sought professional help from a therapist to help me deal with the anniversary of my wife's death, it helped me to cope with the emotions and find ways to remember and honor her memory)
It's important to remember that everyone grieves differently, and there is no right or wrong way to cope with demanding days. It's essential to be patient, understand yourself, and find ways to manage that work. It is also necessary to know that it is okay to seek help and support when the emotions become too overwhelming.
"Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. It is the price of love." - Pope John Paul II