Everyday Love: The Death Anniversary Several Years Later

Understanding Grief / Understanding Grief : Eleanor Haley

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For most newlyweds the first wedding anniversary is day of happiness and joy. Hopefully the couple's year together has been one of wedded bliss, save for the the occasional bump in the road, and their anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate a successful year of marriage and reaffirm their enduring love and desire.

everyday love and grief

There will probably be reservations, champagne, a piece of half defrosted wedding cake, a fancy outfit, and maybe even some romance *wink, wink*. If the pair follows tradition they’ll exchange a gift of paper and if they eschew custom perhaps something more substantial; but whatever they give they will have agonized over it in search of the perfect gift to express the well of passion and adoration their spouse can look forward to ‘til death do they part.

One, two, and then five years pass and life puts our carefree couple to the test. Love still remains but it no longer looks like a - night on the town, spontaneous romance, shout it from the rooftops - kind of love. Instead love in year 8 looks like a - three in the bed, sweatpants on Saturdays, schedule shuffling, money saving, forgiveness, compromise, and comfort – kind of love.

On their 8th anniversary they make plans, but struggle to find a babysitter; they wear something nice, whatever they have that fits; and before leaving the house hand in hand they must kiss each of their sticky faced children goodbye. Over dinner they laugh at the busy chaos of their life together and reminisce about the simple lighthearted days of the past. For a moment they wonder if it's bad that they’ve let their love radiate with less enthusiasm and emotion, but without missing a beat he says to her, "You know, I think I like our life now just a little bit better ."  Yes they may be a little worse for the wear, but they are wise, strong and their well of love is wide and deep.

Grief is a lot like a love story, although its emotions exist on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum.  Just like falling in love, at first a person becomes all consumed by intense feeling. However unlike being in love, the emotions felt are of the distressing like sadness, anger, despair, and loneliness.

Just like new love, a person watches the "one year mark" approach with nervous anticipation. However unlike being in love, the grief anniversary marks a devastating event.

The grieving person knows that on the first anniversary of their loved one's death everything will stop and they'll be forced to reflect on the last year. They'll remember the day their loved one died; they will probably reflect on the year they’ve spent with grief; and they will likely say to themselves that even though their loved one’s been gone a year, they love them just as much as the day they died.

One, two, then five years pass and they're forced to keep on living. Their grief remains, but the grace of time and the warmth of love slowly softens their fury against the emptiness.  They grow stronger; they grow wiser; and as the heat of passionate grief subsides, they forge a deeper connection with their deceased loved one.


On the 8th anniversary of your loved ones death (or the 4th, 6th, or 10th), don’t feel guilty for being okay.  You’ll probably feel sorrow and you’ll probably feel sadness, but don't feel sad that it's not with the intensity that you felt in the first year or so.

Rest assured it's your pain that has been tempered, not your love. On the contrary, your love has humbly and gracefully evolved into an everyday kind of love.  A love that is comforting in times of sorrow, that brings you strength when you’re afraid, and a fond smile at the thought of your loved one's face.

If you are looking for tips on how to cope with the anniversary of your loved one's death, you can find them here.  Don't forget to subscribe.

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24 Comments on "Everyday Love: The Death Anniversary Several Years Later"

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  1. D  February 25, 2023 at 9:06 am Reply

    Today is the 3rd anniversary of Joshua’s leaving. Today I remember pain. I pay attention to sadness, grief, loss, tears and heartache that never go away.

  2. Mandy  August 11, 2017 at 8:00 pm Reply

    My dad has been gone 10 years ago today. I still feel cheated and he passed away when I was 26 and he was only 50. He was my birthday twin and every birthday without him feels like a loss instead of a happy time. The hurt isn’t as profound as it was 10 years ago, but still cuts deep when I take a moment to pause. I wish so much that he could be here to see his grandkids having fun and being successful at sports (he loved that when I was a kid but still embraced everything about me when I turned out to be more artsy than athletic). Grief sucks but at the same time the tears and sadness just reaffirm how very much he meant to me.

  3. Vicki  August 21, 2016 at 6:51 pm Reply

    I don’t even like calling it ‘anniversary.’ I call it a tragi-versary although I didn’t coin the phrase. But we watched while his death unfolded on live television. I couldn’t stand thinking of it as an anniversary so when I heard the word tragi-versary I started using it.
    I have a friend whose husband died on Flight 93 and she got really distressed when media members asked how she was going to celebrate the first anniversary of his death. She said “every day’s an anniversary” and no longer wanted to talk to them about it.
    I think the word celebrate is what upset her so much. You don’t celebrate the death of someone by a terrorist act that was so violent the only thing she ever received of his remains was a piece of his watch. I didn’t receive anything at all of Eric’s remains; 1,770 families have no remains at all. I can’t stand calling any of the succeeding years an anniversary, it will always be a tragi-versary to me.

  4. Wendy Duval  May 17, 2016 at 11:10 am Reply

    I lost my 21 year old son. On his first anniversary we held a big outdoor party with all his friends & family. We had loads of food, ,slip & slide, volleyball net etc. Started in the afternoon & finished the next am. Everyone camped over. We had music he’d love & we all sang to. Big bonfire & had lanterns to send up to him but it rained so we couldnt. We even had special T shirts made up for him & the event. My family & I wouldn’t of wanted to be anywhere else that day than with his friends. Getting ready for his 2nd Anniversary and are planning it again. Hoping no rain so we can send the lanterns up to you my Littlebear. Xxx

  5. Jan Brock  January 2, 2016 at 7:24 am Reply

    I just went through the 3rd anniversary of my husband’s death. He died on December 21st, 2012. We would have celebrated our 41st anniversary on December 24, 2012. This makes all the holidays so hard to get through. I have made it one more time. Now to get through 2016 without him. To say I miss him can in no way explain the loss I feel. This loss has left me forever changed and there is a big, gaping hole in my life. It is so true what you said about reliving the days before, during and after the anniversary. Thank you for saying that. I started keeping a journal shortly after he died and in a lot of ways it does help to get those feelings out. My heart goes out to all the others who have experienced a loss of a loved one. I have found that life does go on even with a broken heart.

    • Litsa  January 2, 2016 at 10:55 pm Reply

      Oh Jan, that is so hard when so many important days are all stacked together. Wishing you strength getting through 2016 and I hope you find some support on our site!

      • Jan  January 3, 2016 at 5:48 am

        Thanks. My daughter sent me this link and I am hoping by reading of others who have had similar things happen in their lives to find some hope for the future. The days are long and lonely and the grief is almost unbearable at times like the holidays. My husband went into the hospital the day after Thanksgiving 2012 and died a month later. I hear that time helps but somehow this anniversary seemed worse.

  6. Patty Baggett  December 31, 2015 at 4:25 pm Reply

    The saying (time heals all wounds) rings true for me but i mss my son as much today as day i lost my precious Titus fay, just more bearable..

    • Litsa  January 2, 2016 at 11:06 pm Reply

      Yes, that is a good way to describe it. I have always related to the idea that it doesn’t necessarily get ‘easier’ so much as it gets different. It is still painful, the yearning is still there, but it is different because I have learned live with it and that makes it feel bearable.

  7. Carol  October 12, 2015 at 9:20 am Reply

    Yes, this is so true. Today is seven years that my precious son, Geoffrey, died. I so appreciate this post today.

    • Eleanor  October 14, 2015 at 10:20 am Reply


      I’m so glad it was helpful. My heart goes out to you during this tough time of year.


  8. jane evans  October 10, 2015 at 4:02 pm Reply

    what a lovely thought “the grace of time” so true , time does really really help,

  9. Nancy Gordon  October 27, 2014 at 1:10 pm Reply

    My daughter died 7 years ago on 10/24/07. I’ve found creative expression a good way to process grief and remember. I made a collage titled “cherished memories” of photos of her, and her and me and her sister, and her and her husband and posted it on my facebook page in her memory. She is still deeply missed–but life is also rich and blessed.

    • Jane  August 24, 2016 at 6:50 pm Reply

      Thank you – so need to hear that… 3 years 8 months since my daughter Bethany’s death and lately I have sunk into a pit of tears that lasted 10 days. My ex just died 3 months ago, (he became my roommate and fellow griever when she died) my mom 1 year ago and this seemed to open up my grief for my daughter anew. Brought times…

  10. Kristi  October 23, 2014 at 10:56 pm Reply

    November 3rd it will be 9 years and I still miss Marc so much! I can’t wait to go and join him!

  11. cathy  October 23, 2014 at 8:40 pm Reply

    4 years just passed since the death of my precious 20 year old son. I have to tell you your article was so true. It was absolutely beautifully written. This was the first year, I did not wail with tears. If anyone had told me that a few years ago, i would never have believed them. Time does soften the intensity of ones grief. You cannot go on everyday with such sorrow as originally experienced. You must try to live and find joy in life. A wise man said to me a few months after my son died, :You put him on a shelf in your mind, and there will be days he comes off the shelf and will make your eyes fill with tears, but there are days that you just know he is in your mind and heart and you will remember him with love and sweetness.”

    • Eleanor  November 7, 2014 at 2:17 pm Reply


      Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry about the death of your son. That is a beautiful analogy. Thank you for sharing it I will certainly remember it.


    • Claudia  February 26, 2020 at 2:32 pm Reply

      Dear Cathy
      Four years today my husband suddenly died . Thank you so very, very much for your quote. Today I find tears falling down though I’m doing something else but your quote and the picture it evokes are quieting and soothing and I’ll go on with my day.


      • Robert Toth  September 24, 2021 at 5:24 pm

        I just came across your comment now.
        I’m a new member. Very sorry for your loss! What got my attention was your name, Claudia!! My wife passed away on June 26, 2019. Her name was…Claudia!!!!

  12. Owen R Cormier  October 23, 2014 at 7:34 pm Reply

    Lost my wife of over 50 years together on feb. 2 2014

  13. Trudie Sandberg  October 23, 2014 at 5:58 pm Reply

    Today is 2 years since my Alan left for heaven. This week was as hard as last year’s anniversary. Spent time with him at the cemetery. Guess October will always be hard. I miss him so much…he always said i would miss him when he was gone ( a private joke between us). I do…he was always right.

  14. Dawn Davis  October 23, 2014 at 5:00 pm Reply

    On November 17th it will be two years since my daughter died. I found your article beautiful, reassuring, tender and very wise. Like Linda I do believe we will see one another again and until then I feel my daughter’s essence all around me. A beautiful maine coon cat was sitting, just an hour ago, in the garden I planted for my daughter and where I buried her ashes. This gorgeous cat came as a gift, I feel it in my heart. It is not the same as hearing her voice or seeing her face but it is something still, and it touched my heart.

    • Eleanor  November 7, 2014 at 2:15 pm Reply

      Hey Dawn,

      Thank you for your comment. I really hope we are eventually reunited with family and friends. That is beautiful, the visit from the cat. Thanks for reading.


  15. Linda Rubano  October 23, 2014 at 4:38 pm Reply

    November 2nd is two years since he died. I will never recover from my loss and can only hope that we’ll be reunited in Heaven.


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