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.
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.
We wrote a book!
After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.
You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books: