Abstract: Quick. When you think of an anniversary, what comes to mind? When you search for “Anniversaries” online, most of the top results are for wedding or relationship milestones. Not all anniversaries are loving reminders of positive moments in our lives. But that does not make them any less important in shaping who we are. So why then do we not celebrate them? Is it simply because they could be bad or negative experiences in our lives?
Quick. When you think of an anniversary, what comes to mind? When you search for “Anniversaries” online, most of the top results are for wedding or relationship milestones. And while those are incredibly important and something to be cherished and celebrated, what about the other types of anniversaries?
Not all anniversaries are loving reminders of positive moments in our lives. But that does not make them any less important in shaping who we are. So why then do we not celebrate them? Is it simply because they could be bad or negative experiences in our lives? I heard somewhere that it takes three positive experiences to counteract one negative experience. If these negative experiences are so powerful to us, why are we not honoring them?
Unhappy anniversaries could mean many things to different people. For some, it could mean the loss of a loved one. For others, it could mean learning the life they are leading is a lie. Others, it could be a serious medical diagnosis. The list goes on. There is one commonality among them all – they are potentially life changing for us.
Remembering, maybe even celebrating, the anniversary of a negative situation does not prolong the suffering of the situation. Instead, it allows us to evaluate the changes we have made over the past year and set goals for ourselves for the next. We are acknowledging that something happened to us, taking back the power in the situation, and charting the course for our future.
Here are a few things you can do to celebrate an unhappy anniversary:
1). Journal the changes that have happened over the past year. If this is your first unhappy anniversary, document what you have gone through over your first year. Look back at how you reacted to the news, the feelings you had in the days following, and think about what you would do different if you had to do it all over again. If this isn’t your first unhappy anniversary, how have you changed since you found out? Are you where you want to be? What do you need to get to that point? What support do you need?
2). Go out of your way to pamper yourself today. Even if you must save up all year for this, do something special yourself. For some this could be a spa day, for others, this could be taking a cooking class. Do something today to honor yourself.
3). Feel what you need to feel. This might be the most important. Just for today, feel whatever you need to feel. But just for today.
An unhappy anniversary is not a restart for the grieving process, but an aid. It is a reminder that something happened and a celebration for the progress you have made since the situation occurred. Celebrating an unhappy anniversary allows us to reprocess and reevaluate where we are in the healing and grieving process and make any necessary adjustments for the next year.