The holiest of all holidays
are those kept by ourselves
in silence and apart;
the secret anniversaries of the heart.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
What are anniversary reactions?
Anniversary reactions are when feelings and distress associated with a loss, death, and/or trauma are re-experienced or intensified.
• They are a normal part of experiencing and coping with such events.
• These reactions most commonly occur around the anniversary of the loss, death, and/or trauma but they can also occur around other meaningful dates, times, and associations to the loss or trauma.
• The intensity of the reactions may range from mild to extreme and they may last from several hours to several weeks.
• Anniversary reactions are painful but they are also an opportunity to work through the loss or trauma further.
What Can You Do To Feel Better?
• Recognize and acknowledge your feelings and reactions.
• Take care of yourself emotionally and physically.
• Talk to others about what you are feeling or experiencing.
• Spend time alone reminiscing or doing something meaningful related to the loss or trauma.
• Spend time with others.
• Balance out these emotions by living the other aspects of your life fully.
• Distract yourself as needed.
• Honor the anniversary with a meaningful ritual or tradition.
• Express your emotions through writing, art, poetry, cooking, or any other way which gives voice to your feelings.
How Can You Help Others?
• Acknowledge the anniversary in some way.
• Ask how they are feeling about the anniversary.
• Listen to their thoughts and feelings.
• Know the power of your presence and empathy.
Anniversary reactions should ease with time. If they do not, consider talking to a professional about them as this helps work them through.