Honouring and Coping with the Anniversary of a Loss

By: Les Fee
Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The only thing as inevitable as death are anniversaries, and the feelings associated with the 

deceased can last for months or even years after their passing. For those who have not yet lost 

a loved one, they may misunderstand the strong and conflicting emotions that come with both 

celebrating a life and commemorating a death, so you might find yourself feeling alone at this 

time of year.

If you are currently preparing for an anniversary of the death of a loved one, we have compiled 

this short list of things that may help you at this difficult time.

Understand that it’s normal to feel this way

The first and most important thing to remember is that, whatever you are feeling, grief, anger, or 

anything else, is valid and normal. Emotions run strong on anniversaries. Don’t bottle them up; 

allow yourself to feel whatever you may want to feel. The progress you have made since your 

loved one’s death is real, and it’s natural and understandable to look back with mixed emotions. 

Letting go and moving on is not a betrayal of your loved one, and is the healthiest thing you can 


Talk to someone

It’s common to feel alone at times like this. You don’t have to be. Turn to family and friends, who 

are probably going through similar emotions as you are. Speak to a specialist, like a grief 

therapist, if you feel like you need to. Don’t be ashamed of seeking support at a hard time, you 

may find that your surviving loved ones are in a similar situation.

Reconsider mourning

It sounds strange, but you might find it better to celebrate the life of your loved one, rather than 

their end. Spend the time around and after the date doing something they enjoyed. Go to their 

favourite beach or restaurant. Spend some time working with their favourite charity or sharing 

happy memories with family and friends. If you are religious, asking your local house of worship 

to pray for your lost loved one can help. Commemorate the happy times and the things that 

made you love them, not how it came to an end.

And if the grief is still too raw for that, that’s okay. Take it easy, and have reasonable 

expectations for yourself.

Remember, you and yours are the legacy of the deceased. Do what you believe they would 

want you to do. Reach out if you need to, and be open to others who might reach out to you. 

Cherish your memories, but don’t be consumed by them.


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