Unhappy Anniversaries

We recently passed the one year anniversary of when the world shut down. Typically, we associate anniversaries with things to celebrate. It seems easy to hold space to remember those happy occasions. Perhaps a less considered kind of anniversary is that of tragedy, and it’s equally as important to hold space for the emotions that come with passing the date of an unhappy event.

Now that we’ve passed the first anniversary of the COVID-19 lock down, more and more of us will be also passing the anniversary of a loss of some kind. Whether that be a job or a loved one, or a sense of freedom or safety in the world, or something else entirely, it is important to hold space for whatever feelings come up. It can be difficult to predict how we will react to these anniversaries. It may feel like just another day, and it may feel significant. There isn’t a right or a wrong answer. Whatever comes up is what your work is.

I invite you to hold space for whatever comes up over the next year. Don’t judge yourself, just notice that you are feeling something. Let yourself feel it fully. Notice what thoughts come to mind while you are experiencing these feelings. Notice what you feel in your body, is there any tension or discomfort anywhere? Get curious about what you notice. Gift yourself the time to think about what comes up and work to understand it. It can be helpful to write about your experience or to talk to someone you trust to process your experience. Move your body in a way that feels good. Spend time with your pet.

It’s reasonable to anticipate feeling raw and vulnerable around the time of the anniversary of your loss. Seeking comfort and support from those we trust is a wonderful way to cope. But sometimes we just want to be alone, and that is okay too. I invite you to listen to your heart and your body, and to do whatever it is that feels right for you in that moment. Do you feel like having a nice cup of tea in a bubble bath? Perfect, do that. Do you feel like screaming into a pillow? Totally valid, do it. Are you anxious and feeling the need to move? I support you whether that movement looks like a long run or jumping up and down wildly while flailing your arms. Perhaps you feel like writing obscenities in bubble letters and coloring them in fancy patterns. Perhaps you feel like cooking or baking your favorite comfort foods. Perhaps you feel like ugly crying to your favorite sappy movie. Perhaps an act of kindness feels right. The point is, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone, there is no wrong way to work through your feelings. I invite you to do whatever it is that you feel the need to do, and to do it without any judgement.

Written by: April Moritz, LPC