Those horrible, terrible, no-good anniversaries



There are all kinds of wonderful anniversaries we get to celebrate through the year and we all seem to be pretty good about how to do that. Sadly, anniversaries of sad, hard times are also very real. Here are some ideas for ways to help people going through those tough days or times or year.




So. Not to start out with a downer or anything, but today is the one year anniversary of what should have been my due date with our fourth baby.


I know. 


That news will either strike you as very sad or make you think, “seriously, JL, can we stop talking about it?”   Actually, this post has very little to do with me or how I’m feeling or any of that. It just happened to be a good day (in my mind) to talk about this particular topic:


those horrible, terrible, no-good anniversaries that bring pain

There are innumerable sorts of anniversaries that are hard:

  • days miscarriages occurred
  • days that should have been due dates
  • days babies were still-born
  • days relatives were lost
  • days marriages came crashing down
  • … etc.


No one has a corner of the market on sad memories. We all have those days that are tougher than others. Those dates that serve as triggers. There’s a very good chance there are at least a few people in your life for whom you know certain dates or times of year are tough.   Here are some ideas for ways to reach out to them:



Mark the date down.


I know that sounds morbid. I know you think you’ll remember. The thing is– you’re busy, too. And, while you care deeply for your friend, a day that holds deep significance for her might wind up being just a chaotic Wednesday for you. Put it on the calendar, even if it’s just a little code to remind you.   For the person who’s swamped in despair, it can be particularly hard when it feels like everyone around is just carrying on as if nothing happened. Having it written down will help make sure you don’t inadvertently ignore a day that is hard on your friend.  



Reach out.


Last year, right around when we should have been welcoming another precious baby, I received flowers from a good, long-distance friend. I received a couple of cards. Those meant so much to me.   It doesn’t even have to be that involved, though. I had someone I thought “barely knew” me on Twitter send me a quick, thoughtful direct message. I had a friend give me a quick call. Knowing that people both remembered and acknowledged my pain made me feel a little less alone or crazy as I went through another little phase of mourning.



Don’t expect her to “get over it.”


There is no expiration date or cut-off time on grief. Some people may seem to bounce back quickly. Others might struggle for a long time. Those who are doing great? Might all of a sudden hit a really rough patch. This is just how emotions work and they’re nothing to be ashamed of.


You may wonder why, five years after a miscarriage, a woman is still fighting tears on a certain date. You may think a couple who lost a child but has gone on to have three other healthy babies should be able to rise above the pain. But, here’s the thing– joy and pain are two different emotions that can absolutely coexist. Being sad and needing to a mourn a bit does not mean that she doesn’t also “count her blessings.” Allow her whatever time is needed to process the pain.



Don’t “compete” over tragedies.


This seems to be a uniquely female dynamic and I honestly think it stems from good intentions. We women tend to be communicative and that’s a very good thing. We also like to share and relate, when possible, and that can also be helpful. When it becomes not so helpful, however, is when we wind up diminishing one another’s struggles– sort of, “I see your tragedy and I raise you one.”  


She miscarried once and you miscarried four times? I get it. Your pain is real and intense too, and you are entitled to it. Just try not to minimize her suffering in the process. You’re probably just trying to convey that you can relate– and that can be SO helpful. Just try to ensure she knows you get that she’s hurting, too. It’s not a contest. And thank heavens for that.    



What is your advice for reaching out to those facing difficult anniversaries?

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14 comments to Those horrible, terrible, no-good anniversaries

  • Marcia

    My sister lost a child in November of 2005. Her beautiful daughter only lived 12 days. She and her husband don’t talk about it because their son (born in 2007) doesn’t know about his sister yet. I make it a practice to send her a dozen of something every Halloween (her daughter’s birthday). Some years it’s flowers, some years candy, and once it was donuts. Just something to let her know I’m thinking of her. She never feels like talking about it during that time, but she knows anytime she wants to talk about her daughter, I’m here.

  • Thank you. I’ll be thinking of you today.

  • Laraba

    The Lord has brought you to mind many times lately as I thought the baby’s due date was the 19th. Obviously I was off a day. The Lord truly is with the broken hearted and the loss of a baby is one of life’s most heartbreaking events. I’ve been praying for you.

    • Thank you so very much, Laraba. Your words, support, and prayers have meant the world to me all throughout this journey– you’ve been a true friend and a treasure. I am so grateful for you! xoxo-JL

  • C

    Thank you for posting this. This week, a year ago, I found out I was pregnant. Oh the joy! Next week, a year ago, I had a miscarriage. I have been unable to become pregnant since. Not many people around me know about this because, frankly, I don’t like to discuss it. I don’t expect anyone, other than my husband, to remember. But I so agree with this post. A phone call, a gesture, anything would be so appreciated.

    • I’ve been thinking about you all this week, C. I am so very sorry for your loss and the pain that comes with these sad anniversaries. I don’t know which actual date it was for you, but please know that you’ve been on my mind and heart. Praying that you were able to take some time to acknowledge your grief and loss, and sending hugs.

  • [...] Those horrible, terrible, no-good anniversaries JessieLeigh shares how to help people on the anniversary of events that bring pain. [...]

  • Brittany

    I lost twin girls in November 2005 I had a baby boy also at the time of their death. I also have 3 other children after my twins passing born in 2007, 2009, an 2011 every year on their birthday we get them a cake an balloons to the cematary the kids an nieces an nephews write them messages on them we let them go an my oldest son which is 9 now will get us in a circle an say a prayer. We then light their cake an sing Happy birthday an the kids blow out the candles.

  • TallyMichelle

    Thank you for this post. I’ll be sharing it as we have a tough anniversary coming up Nov. 2nd, as our 3rd child (2nd daughter) was stillborn. I am very grateful for the true friends that remember her birthday and hug me when I need it.

  • krystal

    Thank you for the wonderful words my dear friend lost her 7week old healthy baby girl frrom SIDS a couple days before Christmas, and also born on Halloween. So even holidays are such hard times for us. But being her friend I’m always there for her when she needs me. Because I also lost some one very close to me. So I feel her pain

  • Adriana

    I just wanted to take the time and let you all know that even though this is the first time for me to read this I think about all of you. We also have a very special date coming this week. I think about all the families that have lost and feel like when I cry or breakdown that I’m not alone. I have never posted or shared our loss of our daughter Sariyah with anyone other then our loved ones. & everyone that is close to us is not sure how to react so it’s nice to see others going through this but with acknowledgement. My fiancée and I have taken the the day off from when I gave birth to our sleeping Angel and on Wednesday we have also decided to take off what have been her 1st birthday. Although I’m not sure how I will feel on this day I will be thinking of all you and the experiences i read.

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