take the "surprise!" out of anniversary reactions

We've looked at how to recognize when you’re being ambushed by unexpected anniversary reactions following the death of your spouse/partner.

Now let’s talk about how to cope with these situations.

Anniversary reactions have a way of “sneaking up” and blindsiding us despite our best efforts to avoid them. Even the most subtle sights, sounds, smells, or other reminders can suddenly trigger powerful and often baffling reactions of loss.

Here are some ways to disarm those “sneak attacks”:

A) Take the time to identify what’s touched off your reaction (see our previous post).

B) Give yourself permission to feel the sadness associated with the event you’re remembering.

C) Assure yourself that now that you’re aware of a particular emotional trigger, you can better anticipate it in the future. This will give you greater control in dealing with the situation.

D) Allowing yourself to experience the feelings of loss means you’re taking another step forward in your mourning process.

Keep in mind that although there are always these emotional triggers out there, the pain you feel will become less intense over time.

We’d love to hear about ways you’ve found to cope with anniversary reactions, especially the “sneaky” types.


Anonymous said...

Anniversaries are very tough for me. What I am trying to do-and not always sucessfully-is to look at those dates and triggers in a different way. Did you ever notice that any sentence that begins with "What if...." usually ends with something negative? I try to put a different "spin" on it. That's not to say I don't feel what I feel, but I to try to find something positive in the experience, to create new memories to associate with that day, and to "look forward" to something. It is my "reward" for getting through it-could be an ice cream cone, a date with my grandkids or a new pair of shoes. It is a process and there are still many things I don't feel comfortable doing yet-but I am a work in progress and I do know with time those emotions are less intense. It is hard work, but the results are well worth it!

Laurie and Ruth said...

Thanks, Deb, for your insights and perspective about these difficult occasions. Yes, mourning is a process but we applaud your courage in hanging in there and finding creative ways to cope.