The Grief FAQ- Anniversaries Essay

The Grief FAQ- Anniversaries Essay

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In the first article of this series we discussed the differences between adaptive and maladaptive grieving, remembering being one of several areas we covered. We are going to get into remembering a little bit more today paying particular attention to anniversaries. I'm using the term anniversary to refer to a range of events - holidays, birthdays, the date of the actual loss - as each of these may present with it's own unique set of challenges for the individuals and family systems. Some of these challenges individuals can include,

- The obligation the individual who is grieving feels to the family to remain "active" in the festivities of the holiday while tolerating the distress of going through the holiday without the person they lost.

- The anticipatory distress of an upcoming anniversary and how an individual is going to "be".

-Feeling an obligation to comply with cultural, familial or individual expectations surrounding ritual or formal remembrances and being unsure about the capacity to "perform" appropriately.

- Fear of being or feeling alone.

- Fear of losing control and engaging in maladaptive behaviors.

Planning can be helpful in tolerating and working through the distress of anniversaries. Prior to developing strategies, it's important to consider where you're at in the grieving process. If safety issues exist and/or memories or triggers relating to the loss leave you vulnerable to relapse (addiction/mental health) then strategies could center on safety, distraction and structured, purposeful and time limited exposure to memories or events surrounding the loss. If you feel you are in a position to honor the loss willingly, safely and feel closer to a position of acceptance; strategies could be more assertive in ho...


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...ual and structured remembrance can play a significant role in providing folks with a variety of opportunities along these lines. Family embers can play a significant role helping the system and individual members remain connected to each other while creating opportunities for adaptive grieving (Masses/Services in honor of the deceased, family Reunions during the anniversary period to specifically honor the member etc.)

Strong anniversary plans can help individuals and families safely grieve a loss while creating opportunities for stronger relationships within a family system. Just by virtue of their existence, plans can reduce the anticipatory distress of an anniversary because it answers the "what am I going to do?" question.

By the way if you missed the first post of this series you can check it out in the related articles section below. Thanks for checking in.

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