Health Advocate Blog

Coping with the anniversary of a traumatic event

As the anniversary of a tragic or traumatic event approaches, many people experience feelings of sadness, grief, anxiety or anger. This phenomenon, which is often deeply painful, is known as an “anniversary reaction.”

Anniversary reactions, which can occur at any time around an anniversary date, are a sign that you are still working through the trauma of your experience. They are also a normal part of the grieving process. Here are some tips that may help.

Take a few minutes to glance at a calendar each month to explore dates and memories. This can help prepare you for the possibility of an anniversary reaction.

The anniversary date is not the only day you may feel out of sorts. Remind yourself that the days or weeks before or after that date may be tough for you.

Limit your consumption of TV news, newspapers and online news sites around those dates. Media outlets tend to revisit distressing imagery.

Express your memories and emotions. Talk to friends or family members, write in a journal, light a candle, or share favorite memories or stories.

Take good care of yourself. Self-care, support and comfort will help ground you as you move through the trauma.

Trauma and loss affects everyone differently, so don’t put a time limit on your grief. If you’re having trouble coping, talk to a counselor for confidential support.