Sadiversary sounds like an anniversary, but instead of a celebratory event, the grieving person commemorates the date their loved one died. Sometimes that date may loom large and foreboding, as you fear falling apart in a fresh new way. Or, you may have expectations and hopes of closure and peace. As usual in the grieving process, your response will be as unique and individual as your relationship with your loved one. With some planning and preparation, the sadiversary can become a memorable grief milestone. Here are some thoughts to help you recognize the truth of your situation and prepare for the sadiversary in emotional, logistical, and spiritual ways.
In anticipating the first sadiversary, recognize that you have spent a year acknowledging and dealing with your loved one’s death. This may be yet another grief challenge, but recognize all the sorrow that you have processed and coped with already. The truth is, you already faced many painful days of grief in those early weeks after your loved one died, and you will get through this one, too. Sadly, there is no award—no prize or recognition—for your survival of one year of grief. Most people will not remember that day of death, the day when your loved one’s life ended and your life changed forever.
Please take heart. The sadiversary is a grieving milestone, a marker on your journey through mourning, sorrow, acceptance, and adjustment. Someday it will not hurt like this, as my mother promised me. A widow at age 36, my mother raised three children on her own and knew what I faced. My mother told me of writing a check once, when she suddenly recognized the date as the day of my father’s deadly plane crash years earlier. Instead of a grief ambush, she felt surprised that it was just an average, normal day. Such healing seems impossible when grief is so fresh and painful, but God’s comfort and healing continues, long after that first year.
Emotional: Be Gentle with Yourself
Please be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself time and space to grieve on the sadiversary. Remember and honor your loved one in whatever way is best for you. By now, you will know what that looks like. For example, look through photos, read letters, watch videos, or play music. Be by yourself or find emotional support reminiscing with others who also loved this person. Or plan both solitary and group activities for that day. This might be a sad time, but recognize how far you have come in terms of grieving and living life again.
Logistics: Make a Plan
Make a plan so that the day doesn’t stretch out in dread before you or get filled with so many work projects that you have no time to reflect. Schedule something in honor of your loved one. My six-year-old son decided that our family should go on a bike ride for the first sadiversary, because Daddy liked to bike. My kids chose the route, biking back and forth to the house of family friends. As my little guy rode his “big-boy bike,” from which Daddy had recently removed the training wheels, I fought back tears. I recognized my son’s determination to honor Daddy as those little legs churned round and round at the pedals, a total of over nine miles that day.
Schedule something you enjoy, like an outdoor activity, a restaurant outing, or a concert—whatever makes you smile. My in-laws spent sadiversaries eating out at a Mexican restaurant, my husband’s favorite cuisine. The people you choose to spend time with do not need to know about the occasion. After I moved and my husband had been gone for years, I often scheduled sadiversary events with girlfriends. They had no idea about the significance of the date and had never met my husband, but I enjoyed having a planned activity.
Spiritual: Trust God
Recognize and remember what God has done for you in this past year of mourning and sorrow. Reflecting on your early grief may elicit pain again, but you can truly appreciate how God has comforted you. How did God encourage you? Provide for you? Remind you of His love? Help you grow in your faith? Speak to you through His word? Pray and thank God for His comfort. Read God’s Word and ask Him to guide you into the next phase of your life. Spend time writing your reflections down. You may identify progress that you did not recognize before. Trust God for His healing.
As you acknowledge this loss and honor the deceased, this sadiversary may be a grief milestone that propels you forward. May God use this day to remind you of His love for you.