Anniversary Reactions and a Strange Week

February 23rd was the sixth anniversary of my daughter’s death.  A week before this day came, my mind was filled with memories of my daughter.  I remembered the sugar-free apple pies she baked for us.  I remembered how much fun she had with her twins.  I remembered her sitting on our living room floor, laughing uproariously, and slapping her knee.

Some unhappy memories also came to mind and I accepted them.  “I’m going to be okay,” I told myself.

But things weren’t okay and I kept making mistakes, silly mistakes I wouldn’t ordinarily make.  For example, I sent my graphic designer the wrong photo number.  When I was proofreading headings I found some reversed words.   At dinner time, I forgot to turn off a stove burner.  Thankfully, I discovered this mistake when I was doing the dishes.

These mistakes worried me.  What was the problem?  It took me a few days to realize I was dreading the anniversary of my daughter’s death.  To keep me from going backwards on the recovery path, I made a plan.  Actually, family members made the plan and they decided February 23rd would be a family day.  I was touched by their thoughtfulness.

The day began with me drinking coffee at the kitchen table and posting about my deceased daughter on Facebook.  Several tears trickled down my face as I entered the post.   My granddaughter had come home for the weekend and we shared a teary moment together.  “Today is the sixth anniversary of you mother’s death,” I began.

“I know,” she replied softly.

“Grandpa and I have not forgotten her,” I assured her, and then I burst into tears.  We hugged like we had never hugged before, and I felt close to my granddaughter and I think she felt close to me.

“Nobody has forgotten her,” my granddaughter replied.  I nodded my head in agreement and muttered something about crying on the anniversary of her mother’s death.  “It will be like this for the rest of my days,” I said.  And maybe it will.  Teas are an expression of love and there’s nothing wrong with crying. 

Later, family members gathered at a local restaurant for lunch.  It was supposed to be a birthday celebration of my granddaughter’s 21st birthday, which had occurred the previous week.  However, I think lunch was also group support for all family members.  On this special day we wanted to be with one another.  My granddaughter posted about her mother on Facebook, thanking her for guidance in life, and my remaining daughter posted too. 

Since I had done my grief work, written articles and books about grief, spoken about recovery, I was surprised at my tears.  I wasn’t down or depressed; I was missing my daughter.  Therese A. Rando, PhD, author of How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies, says anniversary reactions come from an unconscious internal time clock.  These reactions are normal “as long as they do not unduly interfere for too long with your functioning or reduce your ability to have enjoyment and gratification in your life,” she writes.

Though I miss my daughter, I am living a happy and rewarding life.  I feel like she is cheering me on and saying “You go Mom.  Enjoy every day.” 



Harriet Hodgson

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Harriet Hodgson, BS, MA has been an independent journalist for more than 35+ years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists, Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the MN Coalition for Death Education and Support. Hodgson writes for and has earned top status. A prolific author, she is the author of hundreds of articles and 31 books. All of her writing comes from experience and heer recent books focus on grief recovery: * Happy Again! Your New and Meaningful Life After Loss * The Spiritual Woman: Quotes to Refresh and Sustain Your Soul * 101 Affirmations to Ease Your Grief Journey: Words of Comfort, Words of Hope * Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life * Writing to Recover Journal (with 100 writing prompts) * Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, Lois Krahn, MD, co-author In 2007, after her daughter's death and former son-in-law's death, she became a GRG, grandparent raising grandchildren. Her latest book, Help! I'm Raising My Grandkids: Grandparents Adapting to Life's Surprise, came from this experience. In addition to writing books, Hodgson is a columnist for "Caregiving in America" magazine and Assistant Editor of ADEC Connects, the electronic newsletter of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. A popular speaker, Hodgson has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer's, hospice, and grief conferences. She has appeared on more than 160 talk shows, including CBS Radio, and dozens of television stations/programs, including CNN. Her work is cited in Who’s Who of American Women, World Who’s Who of Women, Contemporary Authors and other directories. She lives in Rochester, MN with her husband and twin grandchildren. Please visit for more information about this busy author and grandmother. Books by Harriet Hodgson The Spiritual Woman: Quotes to Refresh and Sustain Your Soul, available from Centering Corporation, and Amazon, 101 Affirmations to Ease Your Grief Journey: Words of Comfort, Words of Hope, available from Amazon, Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life, available from Centering Corporation, and Amazon, Writing to Recover Journal, available from Centering Corporation, and Amazon. Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, Lois Krahn, MD, Co-Author, available from Amazon,


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  • Sarah says:

    First, I am very sorry for your loss! Thank you for sharing such an emotional and personal moment with us. Anniversaries are such a tough time, no matter if it has been a year or five or even ten. There will always be those moments when you miss the ones you love the most — anniversaries just happen to be one of those times. Often, no matter how much you mentally prepare yourself for that anniversary day, you more than likely will have some form of reaction. We all just have to remember that it is OK to feel sad or feel like we are missing our loved ones, but not to wallow in the feelings for too long. As awful as it sounds, we have to remember to live our lives, to be happy and enjoy our lives. We have remind ourselves to not think that because our loved ones life has come to the end of the chapter ours must as well.

  • Thank you for your comments, Sarah. I agree that we have to remember to live our lives. Multiple losses made this hard for me. Two days after my daughter died, my father-in-law died. Eight weeks later my brother died. In the fall, my grandchildren’s father died in another car crash. Looking back now, I think becoming a GRG, grandparent raising grandchildren, helped me to recover and appreciate my new life.