Tuesday 26 May 2020

Coping with Anniversaries

Emily shares some tips for making anniversaries of loss or traumatic events easier to cope with.

- Emily Maybanks

Anniversaries of either a loss or a traumatic event are hard, but, from personal experience, there are things to do which can ease the difficulty a little. For context, I lost my Dad to cancer in 2012 when I was 17; although this was a long time ago now, there is absolutely no time limit on grief and I still find the anniversary of his death, and indeed Father’s Day every year, emotional. In May 2018, I was the survivor (I prefer the term survivor to victim) of an assault during a coach journey back to university for my final ever university exam. The anniversary of this event is also tough. 

Things which I have found have helped me to cope better around the anniversaries of both my Father’s death, and the assault, include firstly using your support network of friends and colleagues for example. For the most part, I am fortunate that they are understanding and supportive. Whether I need to talk, or cry, or just be silent in their presence, they are there for me. Similarly, if I just need a hug or a distraction, I am able to turn to my friends. Of course, it is important to acknowledge that some people do not have this support network, in which case there are lots of online blogs and forums where you can seek advice and support. 

Secondly, I have found acknowledging and accepting the emotions during an anniversary to be helpful. In fact, this is healthier for our mental and physical health than bottling away these emotions. It is better for you to experience whatever emotions that might show up and to let yourself feel and process these emotions in your own time and in a place that feels safe. Telling yourself that you will be okay – for me, especially surrounding the anniversary of the assault, I often stand in front of a mirror and repeat positive statements such as “I will be okay” or “this too shall pass”. 

Thirdly, this is particularly when coping with the anniversary of the loss of a loved one, I have found it helpful to mark the day with something they would have enjoyed. For example, on the anniversary of my Dad’s death, I try to go for a peaceful walk and I also bake a cake because my Dad loved walking and he also loved my baking. This often makes the day much more enjoyable and it makes me feel that if my Dad were still to be alive, he would be happy. Sometimes, I look at old photos of myself and my Dad and remember the happier memories that we shared together, such as family holidays. 

Finally, I would say that it is important to find a way to cope that works for you, but don’t forget that there is always someone willing to listen, to hug, to support. 

Some websites which offer support for bereavement and/or PTSD include Cruse, Mind and PTSD UK

For more information and support see the Student Minds website.

My name is Emily (Em). In 2018, I graduated from Swansea University with my BA degree in Modern Languages, Translation & Interpreting where I was also passionate about and dedicated to Swansea Student Media and the University students’ newspaper – Waterfront. In September 2020 I will be starting a PGCE at the University of Reading to train to teach Secondary MFL (French and German). I blog for Student Minds because I have experienced mental health issues as a student and now also as a graduate, as well as various other health issues, and I support friends who also have mental health difficulties. I am a passionate writer and writing has been important in my mental health experiences – both in helping me to explore and to cope with my mental health, as well as sharing my story in order to help and inspire others.

1 comment: