Grief Work: .A Time To Remember
written by Linda G. Smith, M.A.,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Professional Counselor
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
When a person is born, we celebrate,
when they marry we jubilate, but when they die
we act as if nothing has happened.
— Margaret Mead
It comes when I’m alone. I don’t feel it coming, especially
when I’m busy and on the move, or surrounded by distractions.
But for a little over a month, I’ve started feeling a mixture of
emotions—anxiety, irritability and sadness. Little things trigger
my anger. Then one day while I was alone, it came over me like
an ocean—and the waves of sadness pounded away at my soul.
It could no longer be ignored. Although painful, it helped to
face the anniversary of the death of my father. Two things are
for sure in this life—you are born and you die. If you’re on the
planet for any length of time, there comes a day when you lose
someone or something (a pet, for instance) important to you.
You have loved and cherished someone or something very special,
and then it’s gone. I had the privilege of being with my
father and my family as he entered life’s final rite of passage.
November 6, 1997, 6:35 P.M., will be remembered until the day
I die. Since then, I’ve been on a journey of grief, recovery and
It is important to acknowledge the anniversary date of
someone’s death. An anniversary date is significant; the experience
changed you in some degree. From that point on, your life
will never be the same.
Special events such as holidays and birthdays may often pose
difficulties when linked to the loss of loved ones. Psychologist
Lester Blue, Ph.D. suggests that “anniversary dates need to be
commemorated. But each person needs to do it as quietly and
as publicly as they need to.” It is important to plan how you will
commemorate an anniversary event.
Think about loved ones who are deceased. Think about other
losses such as job loss, divorce, loss of a relationship, or a physical
It is hard to lose someone or something that is close to me. I
know that the healthiest way to let go and grieve a loss is to first
acknowledge how I feel about it. Today, I will allow myself to
feel the pain of loss. Today, I will plan how to take care of
myself as I allow myself to grieve.
1. Find a resource to help you with loss. For instance, books
can help you understand grief, and counseling or group support
can help you grieve in a healthy way. Some resources address
grief related to the loss of parents, spouses, siblings and children;
others help you manage the loss associated with life transitions
such as divorce, loss of a job, or a physical move.
2. Think about loved ones who are deceased and make a list
of anniversary dates associated with them, such as birthdays or
holidays. Plan to take care of yourself during these times. Decide
how you will commemorate the loved one’s life, and acknowledge
his or her life in a small or big way.