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Anniversary Grief By Ann Hoff

Lori Davidson | 26 April, 2023

            Anniversary Grief  What is it? by Ann Hoff PetPerennials.com

Ann Hoff is a well-known Animal Communicator, Intuitive Medium, and a regular contributor to our FB Group “I Am not Crazy Because I Talk to Animalsand leads a monthly Zoom call with members wishing to chat with a pet, or simply ask Ann a question. This month's content addresses those grief triggers, that seem to come with the anniversary of a loss or perhaps simply a sunset on a beach walk kind of day.

Grief is an interesting emotion. It hits in waves, then recedes when you feel like you might not be able to handle it much more. Somehow, you get your legs under you with your new situation, with the loss of a loved one very present while life still moves forward. Things start to feel a little better, and there are days that you don’t think about your loss for a few hours, then maybe even an entire day. You can see light at the end of the tunnel, you feel you can finally get your breath again.


Then that all strangely goes away. It seems like out of nowhere you are hit with a longing, a sense of despair that is palatable. What strange hell is this? Then you realize that it is the anniversary of your loss.


The “Anniversary Reaction” is the annual echo of a trauma or loss, such as the death of a beloved, a nightmarish accident, sexual assault, or military combat. This reaction is specifically timed, emotionally complex, and truly distressing. It is also quite common. Scientists first wrote about anniversary reactions in 1972.


This reaction is part of the pattern to grieving, but reactions are as varied as the individual experiencing them. I know for myself the grief comes first, then the recognition that I am at an anniversary point. The mind remembers unconsciously. A psychological reaction can be triggered by the weather, the light or other seasonal reminders like a holiday.


Researchers at Stockholm University in 2015 tracked 50,000 parents who had lost a child between 1973 and 2008. Bereaved mothers had an increased risk of dying during the anniversary week of their child’s death. This was even more pronounced with mothers who died of cardiovascular events.

 Anniversary Grief by Ann Hoff PetPerennials.com

The first year after your loss is filled with anniversaries. The time seems to drag, a birthday, Christmas, an anniversary of a trip, they can all trigger Anniversary Reactions. Many of us feel pressure for our grief to be “complete” when we reach a year anniversary. Most often though, the grief is just moving into a new phase.


How to manage your own Anniversary Reaction.


  1. The nice thing about an anniversary is that you know it is coming. Eliminate extra stressors- no need to make the period even more difficult. Make sure you have supportive friends and family or a therapist available. Make sure you have time available to ask for support.


  1. Consider making a specific plan that relates directly to your loss. Remember your loved one by a donation in their name, visiting their grave, setting up a memorial in your backyard or park. This will make you feel more powerful because you are taking action, and not just being passive.


  1. Find your tribe. If you didn’t get support when your loss happened, it isn’t too late to get it now. If you are still having symptoms of grief, there are grief groups to join. Call an intuitive medium to get in touch with your loved one and heal any gaps between you. There is also a difference between grief and depression, if you have depression, you need to treat that specifically.


  1. Beware of the Anniversary effect. Yet there are other milestones too, like a birthday date or gotcha date. Birthdays remind us that time is moving forward, without your loved one. Another year has passed without things getting brighter. Birthdays tend to make us look back when the future isn’t clear cut.


  1. Remember this is temporary. Anniversaries can be intense, but Anniversary reactions usually subside within a few weeks. Anniversary distress can last as long as a season, but usually it is a definite amount of time and you come out on the other side of it lighter. If you know you will laugh again, it can make the grief easier to bear. I know for me, my pets on the other side will bring up that there is “Always more to Love” and that they themselves may be reincarnating back to us in new bodies.


Like all grief, the best thing to do with Anniversary Reaction grief is to feel it, let it move through you, then move forward into new adventures. There is a resilience that comes with knowing you have loved and lost before, and that love is calling you to have another adventure. I believe this with every fiber of my being.


 As long as we are alive, there is always more to love. That is why we are here, to love and get to know ourselves through loving. The true loss is if you let your grief define you and cripple you- if that becomes the end of your story. Your pet on the other side does not want you to quit loving. They spent their lifetimes helping you to love more recklessly, to embrace wild abandon. To know that love does not die, and the greatest honor to them is to use what they have taught you about love to love another.


If you or someone you know is dealing with loss, reach out and let them know you care and that you’re there for them. Send them a note, or remembrance in memory of their loved one.

Not sure what to do? Pet Perennials can help make reaching out easier.


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