Just like nothing prepares you for the death of a loved one, there is no preparation for the first anniversary of a death. The anticipation of the date can make you just as emotional as the death itself. For all the positive steps forward you have taken over the year, the anniversary can set you back again. Just know that it is a temporary setback, and the strength you have gained over the year will hold you together.

Around the anniversary, the workplace can either be a blessing or a curse. It will depend on what type of individual you are. Some like to be surrounded by others and busy with many tasks to let the day fly by. Others like to be alone, savoring the memories of the loved one they lost, mourning the loss and reflecting on how life has changed.

There is nothing wrong with either approach, nor is there a right approach. What works for you is what is right. Here is some advice for both types of people.

If you are the type of person who likes to be surrounded by others, I would suggest using the workplace to your advantage. Schedule meetings, a luncheon and a social outing after work. When scheduling the meetings, be sure not to overwhelm yourself. The object is to keep yourself busy and challenged but not overwhelmed. That could lead to stress and additional emotion; realistically, it will be an emotional day regardless of how you have handled the year. Give yourself the slack to be emotional if needed. Try not to make any critical decisions as they may be swayed by hidden emotions.

If you are the type who prefers to spend time alone, take the time for yourself. You deserve it! If you don’t have vacation time, ask your management if you can make up the time or ask a co-worker to cover for you. By sharing your situation, you will have more support during this rough period. This would be a perfect time to go on a hike, watch a movie in a theater by yourself, work-out, curl up and read a book, call a long-lost friend, volunteer to help less fortunate people or just stare out a window. This is a personal time for you; do what works best. You deserve the time alone!

Let me close by saying that after years of widowhood, I still fall apart in April, as it is associated with the death of my husband. Once the anniversary goes by, I pick myself up and continue as I did in the previous month. It is a lesson that takes years to master!

Rachel Blythe Kodanaz 2011

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Rachel Kodanaz

The idea of writing and speaking on all aspects of loss was part of Rachel’s journey following the unexpected loss of her husband when she was 31 years old. At the time, Rachel was a member of management in a large corporation and a mother of a two-year-old. Having worked in management for Fortune 500 companies, she learned quickly the see-saw created when personal and professional trajectories collide allowing her to providing invaluable insight to Human Resources departments. She created a program providing guidance to co-workers, managers and HR personnel in support of a colleague returning to work after a loss. Rachel speaks nationally to organizations, at conferences and in support of all aspects of loss. She has published numerous articles, books and blogs and has appeared on Good Morning America. Her books, best-seller Living with Loss One Day at a Time, Grief in the Workplace: A Comprehensive Guide for Being Prepared and her latest Finding Peace, One Piece at a Time: What to do with your or a loved one’s personal possessions have received international acclaim. Rachel lives an active healthy lifestyle in Colorado with her husband running, biking and hiking. She is an avid athlete including a Hawaiian Ironman Finisher.

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