Posted by: jedwardswright | September 20, 2011

When You Have Lost Someone You Love: Anniversaries

Yesterday was my son’s 29th birthday, but there were no cards, no cake and no gifts. Cystic fibrosis took Darren away from us at the age of 21.

I know that my daughter was hurting yesterday when she wished her brother “happy birthday” and said she missed him on her Facebook wall. The two of them were the best of friends – more than simply siblings.

There are no words to accurately express the depth of grief that envelops a mother’s heart on the death of her child. The pain over the years has dulled, but it will never disappear.

It is only natural that people who have lost a loved one feel depressed. The deep sadness we feel is a measure of the immense love and respect we feel for someone so dear to us.

What about when a person is already in the depths of despair? For a person suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), where do you go when you feel that you have started at the bottom?

If you have a strong faith, hanging on to the comfort of a God who cares can help sustain you through this dark night, and personally, I don’t know how I would have survived the days, weeks and years following my son’s death without the belief that I would see him again someday.

Even a person of faith is liable to be shaken to the core after burying a loved one though, and question God on why this needed to happen. David, who was called a man after God’s own heart, cried out to God in the Psalms after the loss of his infant son Absalom. Job, a man of great faith who lost all of his children said that if his sadness was weighed it would be “heavier than the sand of a thousand seashores,”[i] yet he held on and lived to see better days.

Medication may have a role to play in helping you to manage, particularly in the time immediately after the shock of a death is taking hold. If you were already depressed, and have not been on meds, this may be the time to reconsider. People with MDD already have a chemical imbalance in their brains to deal with, so a loss may be so overwhelming that there is no coping with day-to-day life. If you are on meds, see your doctor about an adjustment. Keep in mind that if depression grows deep enough without treatment it is not only a danger to your long term health, but a danger to your life itself.

Anniversaries and holidays are those days when the pain is most acute. The anniversary of the loved one’s death, or a birthday or wedding anniversary always hit hard, both because of memories. A sad anniversary, such as the day of a fatal accident, can rip open a place that was just beginning to heal a bit. A formerly happy date is a reminder that the days of celebrating are over.

I have traditionally spent anniversary dates looking through photos of my son, smiling at the good moments captured on film, and having a good cry over the good times that he will never be here to see. I choose to spend those days quietly with my grief, knowing that I likely will not be able to handle too much additional stress.

Maybe you need to have some kind of memorial, or a trip to the gravesite or write out a letter to the one you have lost. Maybe you are a person who is better off working right through those dates, and that’s okay too. Do whatever feels right to you, with the support of others being with you or all on your own.

The main thing to understand is that no one else has the right to tell you how to grieve, or how long to grieve. Everyone mourns in their own way and in their own time.

I find comfort in remembering how my devotedly Christian, fun-loving, hilarious son would want me to live, and trying in some way to be worthy of his memory. He lived well, laughed much and loved often.

The last thought I wish to leave you with is this: it will get better — when I cannot tell you, but time helps, ever so gradually. Hang in there.  Sometimes it seems grossly unfair that life still goes on, but it does, and someday you will be glad again.


[i] Job 6:2 and 3 (The Living Bible)

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Responses

  1. Our daughter and her brother were best friends, too. I know she misses him terribly…as we all do. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • I am sorry for your loss as well. We belong to a club that no one wants to join, and it is good to hear from someone else who has been there.
      Jodi

  2. I’m so very sorry for your loss, Jodi. Sending you prayers today.

  3. Thanks Kim. I truly appreciate that!
    Jodi

  4. So sorry for the loss of your son, Darren, Jodi. My thoughts and prayers are with you. This is a very comforting article that you wrote.

    • Thank you Pat. That is what I hoped to do, was to comfort others who are facing similar losses.
      Jodi

  5. Jodi…I’m late in reading this. I’m sorry…I can’t imagine your loss…but my heart still goes out to you and your family.

    I hope you are feeling better today.

    • I appreciate that Evie. I am doing well today, and most days now, but there will always be times when the loss of my son will hit harder.
      Jodi

  6. I just feel like I walked through my best friend’s suicide again while reading this. So many aspects of it I, myself, dealt with. I found the most important thing for me was to talk about it. That was something no one would allow me to do because they couldn’t deal with my pain, and a lot of the reason I started blogging.
    I can’t imagine the loss of a child, so I won’t begin to say I understand. Just that my heart goes out to you, and I know how much strength and courage it must take to endure that kind of loss, and especially share it with others. I’m glad that you are trying to make something positive out of it by helping others that might be in need. That shows great character. I know reading this reminded me again that I have to focus on her life and not her death. Thank you.


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