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How to mark a sad anniversary

(22 Posts)
suzied Tue 06-May-14 18:37:22

The 1st anniversary of my 16 year old niece's death is coming up. Any ideas what we should do? Her mum just wants to hide under the bed. We have suggested to take her away somewhere , she is planning a memorial service in a month's time to include her friends etc., but doesn't know what she wants to do next week when the actual date of her daughter's death is, she doesn't want to stay with us as that is what she did last year, any ideas? Is going away a good idea?

baubles Tue 06-May-14 18:44:58

Suzied I'm sorry for your loss. A niece of mine also died at 16.

I would think if her mother wants to hide away for the day then that's what she should do. It sounds as if you are very caring so perhaps just be on hand in case she changes her mind.


Lona Tue 06-May-14 18:49:54

Perhaps she just wants to grieve by herself on that day. Nothing worse than having to put on a brave face.

Anne58 Tue 06-May-14 18:59:12

It is hard, and I do speak from experience (I lost my DS2 at the age of 19) and it is very hard to know what to do. Do you live near enough that you could just go round for the day, or if not go and stay with her? She might prefer to be in her own surroundings.

KatyK Tue 06-May-14 19:12:53

Very hard. My nephew also died at 16. My brother and sister-in-law never wanted to do anything in particular on the anniversary. All the family used to speak to them on the day and give what comfort we could. Sadly my sister-in-law died a few years after her son so my poor brother has two sad dates to get through. flowers

Grannyknot Tue 06-May-14 19:19:22


I would just be there for the mum and follow her lead, whatever she does or wants to do: be still, talk, go for a walk. I wouldn't arrange anything.

I did this with a young colleague some years ago, whose gran who lived in New Zealand had died, and she came to spend the day with me, she had no relatives here in the UK. We sat in the garden, we chatted, I prepared a nice meal for lunch. At some point, we went for a walk, passed a beautiful church and on impulse we went in and she lit a candle. None of it planned, it just happened that way, she wasn't a religious person either.

KatyK Tue 06-May-14 19:22:01

Grannyknot - I love going into churches and lighting candles for my relatives and friends that are no longer here. I am not religious either (lapsed Catholic) but it is strangely comforting.

Dragonfly1 Tue 06-May-14 19:24:13

I think you have to let her decide. On the first anniversary of my daughter's death, last May, all I wanted to do was go back to the hospice (100 miles away) and sit in the courtyard. I couldn't get there on the day, but travelled over the day after and met up there for lunch with her dearest friends. On the anniversary itself DD2 and I went out for Sunday lunch and celebrated her life with a good natter, some tears and a glass of wine. And I bought masses of flowers for my house. This year - haven't decided yet but will probably visit the hospice again. Whatever she wants to do, best to let her do it. flowers

FlicketyB Tue 06-May-14 20:16:04

Make suggestions, but go with the flow. A commemorative meal, out or in, and talk about your niece, or even go out for the day somewhere quiet. It depends on whether her mother wants to actively remember and think or remember but try not to dwell on it.

They turned my sister's life support off on Easter Sunday, which we have always treat as the anniversary of her death rather than the date. The next year we went away to France for Easter. We remembered and had a subdued Easter Sunday but also felt distanced from the distress of the accident and medical trauma that preceded her death.

KatyK Tue 06-May-14 20:21:12

Such sad stories

rosesarered Tue 06-May-14 20:24:04

Very sorry to hear of your loss FlicketyB.
Others are right, let her decide on what she wants to do. Going away or out for a meal may look a bit like celebrating to her.I think I would prefer to be on my own.

Kiora Tue 06-May-14 21:08:18

The pain of grief is awful. Must be so much worse when its your child or young member of your family. sad very hard to know how to comfort the grieving.

Silverfish Tue 06-May-14 22:04:31

my daughter was just 5 when my husband died, on the 1st anniversary all his family came to the house and lots of us went to place flowers in the chapel.(I wasn't allowed a memorial due to silly rules by local council).Everyone came back for coffee and I felt that I just wanted to be alone it was too much. Afterwards my daughter and I just spent the rest of the day together and I told her stories about her dad and answered questions she had. We had an early night. However the subsequent years are not so bad as we all move on a bit. It does get easier, you never get over it but you learn to accept

grannyactivist Tue 06-May-14 22:20:11

suzied - my condolences. flowers
Your sister is fortunate that you're sensitive to her situation as well as dealing with your own grief over the loss of your niece. Be guided by her and be prepared for a last minute change of plans - grief can make a mockery of the best laid schemes.

Silverfish Tue 06-May-14 22:37:26

Suzied, hope all goes well for the day, my thoughts are with you all.

Aka Tue 06-May-14 22:38:08

Everyone has the right to grieve in their own way. Each year my DS and DiL go away on their son's birthday as they just want to be together, the two of them and they don't want to see anyone on the anniversary of his death either.

The rest of us gather at his memorial bench and we each let go a balloon. It's just something we need to do as the rest of the grieving family, the forgotten grievers.

Dragonfly is absolutely right, whatever your sister decides, go along with it. She may well want to be alone. Just let her know you will respect her wishes. I understand as an aunt you will be grieving too, but again you need to find a way to acknowledge this anniversary in your own way.

Susie & Dragonfly flowers

GadaboutGran Wed 07-May-14 11:59:11

A tough one, though people often find the 2nd harder. But Suzied, do what you need to do for your own needs & do let her find her own way - she may need to get it wrong in order to find out what she needs to do. Often people find going away quite difficult unless it's to somewhere that has special memories of the person. I've known people go away to avoid the pain only for it to come & hit them even harder in surprising, often more distressing ways. Anniversaries are a good time to assess where you are in the grieving process & what else needs to be done.
On the 1st anniversary of our 16 year old daughter's death, her friends asked to take us on a picnic at the local castle ruins, then we swam in a lovely chalk river nearby. It was so lovely & spontaneous & not what most adults might have dared suggest. Later on it's the lack of other's remembrance that can be hard. Nearly 21 years on Mr Gad & I always go somewhere or do something nice for the day after visiting her grave. I am pleased we have a grave to visit though now I would be ready to do as the Germans do & cremate her remains to free up space in the cemetery. Mr Gad does not have the same needs as me on the anniversary & I hated it once when I was completely on my own for the day. But there are some people & relatives I'd hate to have around as they would hijack my grief for their own.

grannyactivist Wed 07-May-14 12:15:13

Gadabout your last phrase: hijack my grief for their own hits a chord with me. I have observed this time and time again with people I think of as 'grief groupies' trying to outdo one another in their need to be seen to be closer to the deceased or to be suffering more than others. sad

MiceElf Wed 07-May-14 12:19:20

Such wise words Gadabout. We all need to find the best way for ourselves and, as you say, try to be very sensitive to those whose grief is much sharper and whose loss is greater than our own.

TwiceAsNice Wed 07-May-14 15:08:19

I think people on this thread have said some lovely things. Grief is very individual and especially with a first anniversary you may not know what you want to do until the day arrives. See what happens and do something spontaneous if it's wanted and let her grieve on her own if not. Look after yourself too. My nearly 5 year old son died in 1984 he would have been 34 last February. I have done different things in different years sometimes with others sometimes alone. I always mark it and always like to put white and yellow flowers in the house. White because children are innocent and yellow because it was his favourite colour. Loved ones are never forgotten especially children but you do learn to live with it as best you can in time but early grief is devastating and you cannot imagine getting to another place. My heart goes out to all of you experiencing this, it is a club no -one wants to join!

GadaboutGran Wed 07-May-14 15:47:03

Another thought:
It may seem that others forget the dates so clearly etched in your heart but I've discovered that often they don't but worry they'll upset you if they mention it. Some don't have the head for dates but still remember the person at different times. So do let bereaved people know you remember.

Also I'm experiencing this week that memories of upsetting things that people did can be healed years later. My daughter's school friends raised a lot of money & some was used to create a Memorial Garden at school. It was opened 3 years later but we were told the date only 3 days before. I was working in Dunblane so couldn't go & the school refused to change the date. MrGad & son didn't go either as son's lung collapsed at school & they spent the rest of the day in hospital. The old school building has been turned into flats & a new Heritage garden is being opened in the new buildings tomorrow. We've been invited & we can go this time.

Aka Wed 07-May-14 16:11:48

Yes, I would please ask that you don't ignore these anniversary dates. Do let bereaved people know you remember as Gadabout said. It's saddest of all when we think our loved ones have been forgotten. And don't be afraid to say their name either.