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Angel Anniversary, What is this?

There is not much written on grief besides the stages of mourning. The real emotional truth is very rarely shared. Part of the goal of this blog is to start a conversation about death, and grief. Grief is written about, taught, and expected to be a logical process. Mostly because we are not exposed to the emotional side of grief, most people shy away from talking to people when they are grieving. For this reason most grievers such as this writer turn to blogs to share our story.

The story today is about angel anniversaries. Angel anniversary is often described by mothers’ as the day their children died. June 19, 2014 was the three year angel anniversary of our son’s death. Well meaning friends said “celebrate his life” or what did you do to honor him? It is hard for someone who has not experienced traumatic grief or a child’s death to understand what a death anniversary is like.

This date represents the moment our lives were changed forever. When our children died a part of us died with them. Our hopes of grandchildren died with our child. Our dreams of seeing him married, and finding joy in living died with him. Every moment of life you dreamed of sharing with your child is gone in a split second. In many cases including mine this date represents the beginning of a mental anguish that never goes away. The stress of the experience destroys our bodies making us susceptible to illness. You become ostracized by family, friends, and acquaintances because they never want to talk to you again.

By the third anniversary you are expected to be over the death of your child. Most people will not remember this is the day your child died. There is not a Hallmark card for “ Sorry your child died.” There are very few people who will acknowledge the date even if you talk about it. There is silence and then a change of subject. If you are one of the few grievers such as I, that have willing friends and family to talk about your child with them; appreciate them. They are few and far between.

If we were to consider celebrating our child’s life on the date of his death, no one would come. This is the sad fact of life when it comes to grief. Many professional therapists, counselors, and helpers believe there is a time limit on grief. However, I would ask them to walk the day my child died with me. Right now, their ignorance becomes another sign of how estranged we have become from the larger society in our grief.

The death day is spent in solitary inward thoughts. Sadness seeps into the air around you. Every little action triggers a memory. The tears flow in secret. As parents we develop our own ways to remember the worst day of our lives. This year it was white roses on the grave site. We were alone. No reason to hide our tears or pain from each other. We share it every day. We talk about it every day. As parents our grief never stops. We thought of our child the day before he died, and the day after he died. For us, we celebrate him every day as acknowledgment that our first born son is still a part of our family and our lives.