How to Cope With The First Anniversary of Your Loved One’s Death
- August 23, 2021
The first anniversary of a loved one’s death will always be the hardest, and most emotionally challenging to navigate. This is the period of time when you are hit with the realization that a year has passed since their departure, as well as a year since you said your last goodbye. The first year is typically wrought with a mix of emotions for all loved ones involved. Yes, the first anniversary is unfortunately the toughest one, but it also opens the door for further and much-needed emotional healing.
After the anniversary of your loved one’s death, you’ll begin to come to terms with their passing to hopefully find peace and closure. This first year can help mark the end of an extreme period of grief and pain, to allow space for a new period of acceptance and growth.
A Period of Change
Once the first anniversary of your loved one’s death arrives, it can serve as a symbol or reminder of your strength and resilience. You will have now coped through significant holidays without your loved one such as their birthday, wedding anniversary or other important holidays or special occasions. You will also now be able to come to the awareness that you can peacefully move on with your life which is what your loved one would have wanted you to do after all. Of course, while we can move on from the eventual loss of a loved one, we can never forget nor disregard the pain that the loss of our loved one has created. However, we can learn to cope with their passing and keep moving forward.
The first anniversary of your loved one’s death is not only an acknowledgement of your strength and endurance, but is also an important time of remembrance to honor your loved one’s time while they were here on earth. We understand how emotionally challenging it can be to cope with the memories of your loved one as they come flooding back, especially after a year has passed and you have been trying to move on without them. This is why we have created this guide to help you better cope and handle this difficult time day in a way that will be empowering for you as well as help you pay tribute to your loved one.
Acknowledgement and Acceptance of Change
The first and most important thing to do is to accept that things may now be starting to change as you begin to move on and create your new life without your loved one. After a year has passed, it is ok to not feel as emotionally weak as you did the first few months of your loved one’s passing. The mere passing of time can be therapeutic in itself, in allowing you to begin the process of healing after a period of tremendous grief.
Understand that it is ok to embrace this period of change and begin to grieve your loss in a way that is emotionally healthier for you. Knowing that your heart is beginning to mend does not mean your love for your loved one is any less or that you have forgotten about them. Again, it simply means that time has passed and your broken heart is now beginning to heal. Yes, the scars will continue to remain, but the agonizing pain of the wound their loss created will begin to mend. Remember that closing a wound is a good thing; it is difficult to move on in life with an open wound that is continuing to bleed.
Create a List of You and Your Loved One’s Favorite Traditions
An anniversary of your loved one’s passing can be a time to recreate and commemorate some of the best memories you have of the special times you and your loved one shared. Set some time to create a list of those things you both enjoyed, such as restaurants you both enjoyed, favorite movies you both liked to watch or your favorite city or vacation spots you loved to visit, etc.
It is a good idea to include other family members and loved ones as well in recreating and commemorating these precious memories. Their love and support can help you cope as well as regain the strength to revisit these favorite things and places you may have been avoiding since the death of your loved one. Including the family is also a wonderful way to imbue these traditions with new meaning and hopefully even make them into yearly events the whole family can take part in to pay special tribute to your loved one.
Find Support in Your Family and Friends
As mentioned above, spending time with those who were also close to your loved one can be very helpful during a time like this. Your loved ones who are also grieving and trying to move on from the loss will be able to relate to what you are experiencing. They may also be able to provide you with the emotional support you need to better cope during this difficult time. Know that ultimately your loved one you lost would have wanted you to move on as well as see the whole family together, being there for each other and supporting one another during this time.
Prepare a Special Ceremony with Your Loved Ones
Although you might be thinking this is not a time to celebrate, preparing a small ceremony to remember your loved one can be a beautiful and thoughtful way to honor them as well as turn a difficult time into a more positive one of love and remembrance. You can prepare a small ceremony in which you display old videos and photos of your loved one during his or her time alive, play their favorite games, eat their favorite food, or simply have each family member share a special memory of your loved one.
It Is Also Ok to Simply Let the First Anniversary Pass
Although it may be therapeutic to spend this time in a special way to honor your loved one, understand that you are not necessarily obligated to do anything on this day. Everyone’s grief process is individual to them, and you may not be ready to engage in any specific activity to remember your loved one and may feel that you simply need this day to pass. Again, know that doing something or not doing not something to remember your loved one on this day does not serve as a symbol of your love for them or how much you miss them. Not participating in any activities on this day also does not discredit the work you have put into grieving their loss and coping on without them. There is no right or wrong way of behaving during such a time and you must do for yourself what feels right for you. If it feels soothing to your emotional health to engage in a special activity during this day, then allow your emotions to be your guide.
It was in your loved one’s best interest during their time alive to see you happy and healthy. Understand that performing a ceremony for your loved one or recreating traditions unfortunately cannot change the past and that these things are meant to help you cope and honor your loved one. No matter how you decide to remember your loved one on this day, be patient with your heart and give yourself grace. Look back on the special memories you have with your loved one, the special person he or she was to you as you begin to carve out a new life of love and meaning without them and continue to hold them in your heart forever.