Bereavement due to traumatic death

Anniversaries and other special occasions

Many people bereaved through a traumatic death feel overwhelming grief around the anniversary of the death. This may continue for many years. But people respond to traumatic grief in many different ways; and some people are resilient and recover relatively quickly.
After Stephen’s brother died a particular day and a particular time each week was difficult. For at least a year, Stephen remembered that his brother had died on that day of the week at a quarter past one in the morning.
At first, the 15th day of every month was bad for Dolores because her son, Tom, died on the 15th September 2006. Two years later, the 15th of the month became just another day without special significance for Dolores.
Although particular days of the week, or particular days of the month may become less painful, the anniversary of the death was almost always a sad day for people. Pat said that the anniversary of her son’s death is very hard.
Birthdays, Christmas and New Year can be very painful too. Michael said that Christmas was sad time because then he wanted all the family round him and Lewis’s place at the table was empty. He and his wife always go out for a meal on Lewis’s birthday and on the anniversary of his death.
The time around an anniversary can be hard too. Alison said that the build up to these anniversaries, especially the week or two before, was horrendous, but the actual day was fine.  
Michelle’s mother was murdered in 2005. She said that all anniversaries are very difficult, particularly Mother’s day.
People bereaved many years ago said that anniversaries and special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas become gradually less painful. Patsy said that seeing the graves of other, younger children, in the cemetery helped her to gain perspective on her son’s death.

Last reviewed May 2019.


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