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How to cope with the “anniversary effect”,

Handling regular reminders of unwanted change.

Black Friday had a different meaning for me this year. It fell on 24 November, which marks 11 years since my darling Dad died, 6 months after being diagnosed with lung cancer. A massive loss to us all and as that date comes round every year, I am conscious of its effect on me and my mood.

In the same week (every year, cos that’s how it works), a very dear friend has the anniversary of their all clear from cancer. A time for celebration but quite often, reflection too.

I was having a chat with a client recently about the significance of anniversaries and how it can mess with your mind. They are living with cancer and they had noticed a change in their behaviour around the time of the anniversary of their diagnosis.

But it’s not just cancer experiences that create anniversaries. They can mark any significant event in our lives and can be difficult to navigate.

If you have a difficult date approaching, here are some ways to help you deal with the anniversary effect.

So it doesn’t creep up on you, take time to note any dates coming up that have memories attached to them. Be aware that days or weeks leading up to these anniversary dates could be tough for you.

If you have experienced an anniversary reaction before, make sure your supportive friends and family members know and are free to be there for you.

Finding a way to express your memories and feelings when you experience the anniversary effect is really important. That might be talking to a friend or family member, writing about it or using other creative means, whatever suits you best.

Make sure you take care of yourself during these times, as this will help you to move through the trauma.

Tempting as it might be to avoid thinking directly about this anniversary and the event at the centre of it, it can be helpful to directly address your loss or trauma so you can release your feelings about it in a controlled way. Maybe visiting a special place or make a donation to your chosen charity.

Anniversary reactions can be very strong but will pass within a week or two and you will come out the other side of it feeling lighter.

If you were not able to find help when you suffered the original trauma or loss, you might feel upset or confused having to deal with it years later. It is never the wrong time to seek support, so find a suitable counsellor and share it with someone who can help you cope.

Last but not least - loss affects each of us differently, and there is no set amount of time in which you “should be over it”. (See above ref it is never too late!).

Please, if you know someone this could help, share it with them,

Thank you !


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