Anniversary Grief

Last weekend was rough; I swung between feeling very flat, and feeling very sad. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me — nothing out of the ordinary (by which I mean, what passes as ordinary these days) had happened. It clicked today when I read Cindy Milstein’s beautiful words about anniversary grief. Last weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the phone call informing me of my friend Sophie’s death by overdose. 

My understanding of anniversary grief is that the body holds specific memories of events whether the mind thinks about them or not. Our bodies are smart, and even if the mind isn’t consciously noting “My friend died at the very start of spring last year”, the body knows, and responds to the earlier dawn, the smell of mud, the clatter and coo of mourning doves, cardinals, robins and starlings, with grief for what was lost last spring. The body knows the need to slow down, for a gentle pause.

I’m sharing this because the one-year anniversary of the first Ontario shutdown is almost upon us, and I’m not the only one with a wise body that carries immense grief. Almost one year ago, our world changed forever. Everyone’s had a different pandemic experience, but I’m willing to bet that most of us have borne huge losses in the last year. If your body wants you to slow down and notice that over the next week, I hope your circumstances allow that to happen in gentle ways. 

Text bordered by blue flowers reads: "Anniversary grief asks for a pause. Wants to slow down and go gently."

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