By: James Foley
We all enjoy celebrating the anniversary of happy memories. Birthdays, weddings, first dates etc.
But what if the anniversary is of a time or event that was sad or hutful.
How do we mark such events when they come along, should we?
Should you mark a sad or hurtful anniversary?
Well the simple answer is that is entirely for you to decide. There is no right or wrong on that one.
If the memory is too much, and still too raw I would think no. There is little point in hurting yourself again by a re-experience of it in some way.
On the other hand if you are mostly over the pain associated with the memory I believe it can be good to mark the anniversarry of it.
I believe it can be a way to give thanks that life has moved on for you. That life is now better. This is assuming that life has improved. Even if it is a very long process of recovery you are in you may still gain hope from seeing the progress that has been made.
Hope can also be gained by looking back over the previous season of life with all its problems. As you look back you will see how you survived it. How despite many setbacks, disapointments and even horrific events you are still here. You are still alive despite all that life had to throw at you.
Sometimes its right to take time to congratulate yourself, clap yourself on the back and give thanks to God if you are so inclined.
But how do you commemerate something bad?
It seems unnatural to commemerate a bad chapter in your life, but it can be done. It is not about cellebrating the horror you went through but the gladness you feel that it is passed. Also in your reflecting you may seem how your life has gained through what you learned and how you survived it.
So how can this be done, how do you celebrate such an anniversary?
Find an angle to it that you can use to celebrate. It is not the hurtful event you are celebrating but your survival of it.
Share the event with others or have a quite moment to yourself. Your choice of who to share this anniversary with, if you wish to share it at all, is entirely down to you. Most of us will probably not have shared with too many people about what happened and how it affected them. It is likely then a low key meal together would be appropriate.
Find an activity that you associate with the event that can give you a possitive and encouraging memory of your survival. Perhaps it was something that you felt negative towards at the time but now believe you can turn that around to a positive.
This can be a symbolic way of alowing yourself to feel a positive emotion towards the event.
Review the season gone by. This is where keeping a diary/journal is helpful. Even if you don’t do this you may have other items that can be helpful. Social media posts or comments can be a very effective reminder of times past.
What ever you use to help you review the year do it with gentleness and kindness to yourself. Remember it is not about re-experiencing the trauma but being thankful for your survival and all that you learned along the way.
Throw a party. People don’t have to know that the party is associated with anything. People throw parties all the time. It can be a good way to cellebrate life and the joy of good friendships.
For you it may simply be a way to cellebrate survival.
You may wish to have a party for those who stood with you in your pain and struggle. This may be your way to say thanks.
Light a candle or go for a hike. You may wish to do something solitary. This will give you an oppertunity to be with your own reflections at a time when sadness could over power you. Going to a church to light a candle an say a prayer of thanks or going for a walk on a quiet beach may be an oppertunity for your soul to have peace in the midst of painful memories.
A personal disclaimer
As I write I am tomorrow is the first anniversay for me being diagnosed with cancer. Writing this blog, having some special food and a small BBQ is my way of marking this event.
Mostly though I am marking it by living the life of family, work, home, etc that was denied to my by my diagnosis. That is why I survived, because I wanted to live my life. I love my life and those whom I share it with in all its ups and downs.
To all those who helped in various ways I am eternally grateful and I am grateful that my faith in God survived alongside me, with me.