When Another Year Passes: How to Manage Grief on a Death Anniversary

My mom passed away on October 8, 2013. It has been six years since my mom passed away and I can still remember the day vividly. This time of year is always filled with mixed emotions. I love fall, but sometimes I feel guilty for enjoying early October because that is when I lost my mother. Grief can show itself in many ways, such as sadness, anger or guilt. If you have lost a loved one, I can empathize with how you’re feeling. Navigating grief and death is hard and rarely talked about. Over the years, I have figured out a few ways to honor my mother on this difficult day.

  1. 1. Spend Time With Family & Friends

    I try to always try to visit my family on the day my mom passed away. Whether we are talking about my mom or talking about our day, it makes me feel better knowing I’m with people who understand why this day is different than others. A year after my mom passed away, my grief counselor recommended I have a balloon send-off in my mom’s honor. My friends, my father and I had a ceremony in tribute to my mom and afterward, we wrote notes to my mom and sent them off. It was a beautiful experience and made the first anniversary a lot easier. 

  2. 2. Look Through Photos and Mementos

    Whenever I’m visiting my family, I like to look through photos of my mom and I. I also have a collection of her jewelry and favorite music. These may not seem like much, but they help me feel connected to my mom. These physical items are a tangible reminder of my memories with her. My goal is to make a tribute in honor of my mom full of her favorite items. 

  3. 3. Reflection

    As a writer, journaling is one of my favorite ways to reflect on my emotions. I also like to talk to my friends and boyfriend about how I’m feeling. Finding a therapist who understands the complexity of grief can help you work through this difficult time. Write about the memories you shared with your loved one. Tell their stories since they can no longer tell them. 

I struggle with the feeling of guilt during this time of year. Sometimes, I feel like I’m not grieving properly if I’m enjoying my life. However, this is a toxic mentality to be in. Your loved one wouldn’t want you to be completely sad all the time. To get out of this mental funk, I like to listen to upbeat music, watch YouTube videos that make me laugh and spend time with the people I love most. Grieving is hard but taking care of yourself can make the pain feel a lot easier to bear. Just remember that you are never alone.