How Can I Survive Grief Anniversaries?

There are more than you might think.  

Most folks would count the date of death and maybe the date of burial or memorial service.

But a mama’s heart counts it ALL.

I count the day he left, the day I was first able to view his body, the days of visitation, the day of the funeral and burial.

  • I count the day we cleaned out his apartment.
  • I count the day I notified credit card companies he would no longer require their services.
  • I count the day I received the death certificate.
  • I count the day I got his posthumous diploma.

And every year these dates roll around again to remind my heart of the pain I felt then and to pierce it afresh. 

grief as timeless as love

So how does a heart survive all these grief anniversaries?  How can I navigate the minefield of emotions and triggers that only I can see?

I believe the first step is to embrace them and not try to deny them. 



I remember the horror I felt when I realized I had survived 365 days since the deputy came to my door when I was certain I wouldn’t make it through the first 24 hours.  It did not feel like victory, it felt like betrayal.  

How in the world could my broken heart keep beating if I truly loved my son?

I cannot, by force of will, fend off the feelings that are sure to invade my heart when it recognizes that another year has passed.  

The most important thing is to have a plan, I think. That way it doesn’t slam you against the wall unawares. The feelings are impossible to outrun, but having a plan means you are anticipating them and in a kind of “fighting stance”.

The plan might be to go away or to go to the cemetery or other spot that evokes strong connection to your child.  It might be an elaborate gathering that includes friends or family or just lighting a candle next to a photograph.  Your heart may insist you stay in bed all day, covers over your head and wait out the ticking moments.

I think each family has to approach the day however makes sense to them. There is certainly no “right” way or “easy” way to do it.

no right way to grieve

I am sorry you have to do it at all.

Here’s the truth:  even THAT day will only last 24 hours. Just like the awful day when your child left you.

However you manage to survive is fine. 

mother and child paintingYou are not abandoning your missing child if you don’t make a big public display.  You are not forgetting him or her if you let go of some of these grief anniversaries over time-you are learning to carry the load.  You are not a bad parent if you choose a getaway to distract your heart from the pain.

You are coping the best you can-choosing to carry on.  

And that makes you awesome and brave.  

courage is always an act of love


Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

9 thoughts on “How Can I Survive Grief Anniversaries?”

  1. It will be Luke’s birthday on Wednesday, 4 years since he last celebrated an earthly birthday, his 30th and we weren’t even in the country for that! Another point in his downward spiral that could have changed the outcome, had it have been different.

    Too many markers in hindsight.

    I am “over” thinking I should have known, here are far too many markers that were nothing to do with me. However, they are still markers that tick away in my head and as you say Melanie ” a fighting stance” is a good strategy to arm ourselves with.

    Sending my love across the ocean my friend. Peace be with you ❤


  2. Thank you Melanie, I do feel these grief anniversaries so intensely after only 10 months. When I think about how long I have to live my life without Trevor it makes me so sad. My younger son misses him so much too. I gain strength from my friends who have had similar losses and from posts like yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this. I so needed to hear that its ok to not make a big to do. Malcolm’s crypt is outdoors and an hour away. There is no place for flowers or decorations. I just couldn’t afford another $500 for a teeny vase for flowers to be added to the crypt after everything else. The weather will ruin any tape used to attach stuff to it. At this point I’m so emotionally messed up going to his crypt that I’m really not alert enough for driving the crowded highway I have to use to get there and back. I feel like a bad mom when I see what others have done at their kiddos graves. Thank you for making it ok.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Tisha! You are not at all a bad mama! I’m thankful that the post helped your heart. I’m also thankful you are wise enough not to try to drive distracted. Malcolm knows you love him. You don’t have to prove it to anyone else. Praying that the Lord overwhelms your heart with His love, grace and mercy. ❤


  4. This was a great post. Thanks so much. My son Connor died on March 14th, and we are coming up on 8 years. Missing him is a way of life. I also think of it in terms of the days of his death, his wake, funeral, etc. I am always trying ways to cope as time passes yet I feel him as strong as ever. This year we are going away on March 17th to warmer weather. This post helped me feel more peaceful about that decision and how to specifically plan to honor him, wherever I am. Thanks so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jane, I am so sorry that you, like me, carry a grief calendar in your heart and mind. It’s encouraging to me when moms who are further along share that they are enduring. I pray that your time away is a blessing. May you feel the Father’s loving arms around you that day, especially, and may He continue to strengthen you for this journey. ❤


  5. Thank you for this… my son, Noah Lee, will be celebrating his second birthday with Jesus in two short weeks (February 27th). He went to live in heaven the instant he was born. I know we are taking a cake to the cemetery and having dinner with my parents that day but other than that we’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so sorry for your pain and your loss. I pray that you will feel the Father’s loving arms around you and that He will overwhelm you with His grace and mercy. Precious Noah-he never knew a day of not being intensely and totally loved. My heart hurts for you. ❤


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: