Grief Anniversaries: What to do on the day your soul got that permanent tattoo

Anniversaries are usually happy occasions as we often think of them with joyous events such as weddings and birthdays, right?

But what about anniversaries that suck?

August 27, 2012.

This date is forever etched in my mind, heart and nervous system; it’s a soul tattoo. That was the beautiful summer day that my partner flipped on his bike and broke his neck and became a quadriplegic.

So, now every earthly yearly trip around the sun, I am dumbfounded as to what to do on that f#*cking day.

Also, it isn’t just the day-it is also the month of August for me. On August 2nd melancoly moved in and when I remembered what month it was, I knew why.

As I was gathering ideas for my next blog post I kept running into blank walls. There was no inspiration, zilch, nada. I was trying to force the creative juices and I realized that the day I wanted to post it was the dreaded date of the accident-August 27th.

Suddenly I knew what to write about-what the hell do you do on that dreaded day-D Day.

Or I could call it the DFD, the dreaded fucking day. I hope you don’t mind me dropping the f-word in here from time to time. It helps to make the fucking point at times. And it is fun to say-say it out loud now.


Say it again slowly…go ahead.

f     u     c     k

Did you notice that you let out a lovely out breath? I did. And for me it is so good to have a reason to breath and any long out breath is so valuable and necessary, especially near or on the anniversary date, or DFD.

As I came up with this theme I knew it would be valuable, as I know so many people grieving struggle with what to do on the dreaded day. Be it grief from a death, or an accident, or the day you got the diagnosis or heard about it, or a tragedy took place, or a separation, or a final divorce date, or the day she broke up with you, etc, etc.

Also, I want to emphasize that your loss doesn’t have to be death related at all. There are so many ways we lose something precious to us. And all of them matter with the DFD.

So what do you do?

Do you honor it somehow or not? It is up to you and what feels right. Here are some ideas to spark your creativity:

~Acknowledge the day with your closest peeps: remind them what day it is. (Remember you know it because the date is tattooed on your soul, but it is not etched in that way for most others).

~Have someone to check in with about how you are feeling.

~Ramp up the self care big time!

~Honor it or completely ignore it. Yes, I said ignore the damn day!

~Do what feels right.

~Go to work or take the day off.

~Go on vacation. (But the right kind of vacation-oh, the next blog post will explain more about that).

~Sit by the sea.

~Go for a long walk if you can.20150827_083546

~Just be in nature and let the earth/ground hold you-even give the earth your grief-she can take it.

~Dance. I will. Tonight.
Every Thursday in Denver a community gathers to dance intentionally. So, I will go and connect with myself and tune into what feels right for where I am with my emotional state. I have been so lucky to have this community as it has held and supported me through my grief process. My dances have not looked like dancing at all-I have keened, and cried, and laid in stillness with everyone around me moving with joy. I allowed myself to just be in my process. (More on this later, I can sense another blog post now).

~Be surrounded by people who know you well OR go be anonymous and not talk about the event/accident at all. (Sometimes doing this has brought back a sense of normality to my life and yet I feel that I have a huge dreaded secret inside, and well, I do).

~And breathe, remember to breathe. A lot.


~Cry some more.

~Or don’t cry at all.

~Be angry.

~Scream and let it out somehow.

~Make weird grunting noises or other strange noises that feel right to you. Create your own wailing wall.

~Eat bittersweet chocolate.

~Be grateful for what you do have.

~Create a personal ritual for yourself and/or have a few people join you.

~There are so many ways to do the DFD-like the poet Rumi says- “There are a 100 ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

~Oh, that’s a good one-kneel and kiss the ground.

~Press the pause button if you can.

I just did-while writing this I started to feel very heavy inside and so I had to move my body. So I left my office and went for a quick walk. Getting outside, feeling my breath, taking my shoes off and reveling in the sweet sensation of the warm green summer grass beneath my feet, and gazing at the lovely little growing mandalas called flowers-I feel much better. It only took five minutes.20150709_160938

~Have a plan for the DFD and make it simple so you can let emotions arise as they need to.

Here is my plan for the DFD.

Get up and do my morning walk as usual allowing extra time to pause and linger if needed.

Attend to business as I need to go to work and do the daily duties that are required of me. I am grateful for the have to’s as it gives structure to my day. And sometimes you need this when you are simply going through the motions of daily life.

At some point I will check in with Michael to see how he is feeling. We are often on different pages with this day. If you share the DFD with other people, you may each have a different reaction and varied ways of honoring it. And that is okay.

So what is it that you plan to do on your dreaded day?

Leave a comment or two as I would love to learn from you.

And remember-keep breathing…especially on the DFD.