Don’t get on the anniversary train


I have been writing to you for 4 years and I have never written about what to do with the anniversaries of loss.

A wonderful woman reached out to me yesterday and asked me if I would write about this.

So here it goes.

Anniversaries of loss feel like a big train approaching the platform.

Heavy, noisy. Old. Loud.

And you can hear it coming for a while.

You know it’s arriving at a specific time, on schedule.

And you are supposed to get on it.
Ride that train for the day.
Ride its heaviness.
This train is slow.
It takes forever to get to the destination of tomorrow.

But you feel there is no other way to get to the next day but ride the train of the anniversary of your loss.
It is not a birthday.
It is simply a death day.
I am so very sorry to call it with its own name.

I remember riding that train during the first few anniversaries.

Honestly I was nauseous.
Everything came back.
The ICU.
The last tragic days.
The oxygen masks.
My little girls saying goodbye to their dad.
I mean.. talk about torture.
Bring out the knives.
That anniversary train was not fun.

It was all about the death day.

And not about the man I was in love with away from the hospital beds, the morphine and the pain.

It had nothing to do with honoring him.

Nothing at all.
I was honoring death every time I took the anniversary train.
So 2 anniversaries later the train was approaching…my date is July 21st.
And I am standing at the platform.
I can hear it arriving. Heavy, loud. Slow.
And all the death memories were flashing before my eyes even before my boarding.

I had to ask myself is this what I have to go through every single year and is this remembering him?

The answer was a big loud NO. Louder than the train.

I left the platform and ran.

Ran away from the anniversary train.

Where did I go instead?
I went to the beach.
I went to the places we visited.
I talked about him to people who never knew him.
I smiled when I said his name.

Yes it is sad.
Yes there are tears.
Yes it sucks.
I am sorry there is no way around this.
Your heart will fill heavy.

But don’t get on the death day train.

Run away and find the sky, the moon, the sea.
The memories. The journey. The celebration.

On his birthday we would go and sing to his grave.
We would bring breakfast and sit there and sing, and the girls would dance.
They would say. Are you 1, are you 2, are you 3 are you 4…. All the way to his new age.
In a few days he would have been 43, and then in a few days after that he would be gone for 8 years.

The train does not visit me anymore.

There is nobody waiting on the platform.
From where I am standing those anniversaries are excuses to celebrate the life of the man who is the father of my kids.
The man who taught me how to be a warrior through his 4 year battle with the beast people call cancer.
The man who showed me how much he loved life and how much he did not want to say goodbye to his kids.
Yes its sad, and unfair and not what happens to most 35 year olds but that stream of thought takes me back to the train.
And that is not where he would want me to be.

He said to me once. “Christina look at the big picture. The first couple of years will be tough but after that you have to make sure you get to live.”

If he knew about the anniversary train, he would smile and shake his head and say it is not where I live.
It is not where my legacy is.
My legacy is inside of you.
And in the lives of my girls.

Go. Go. Go. Remember me, but don’t get on that train.

I am going to ask you the same.

Don’t get on that train, it doesn’t really go anywhere and:

Healing only lives in celebrating the lives of the ones we have lost, not how they died. (Click to Tweet!)

With love,

Christina

Comments

  1. Wow! I needed this. On the one year anniversary of my husband’s death I cried so hard I threw up. I kept thinking I would wake up and have to live it all over again. This is an awesome post!

    • My dear Hannah,
      The first anniversary is so hard. Yes the nausea and the tears and the tough memories. You feel all alone in the world. Just remember this blog for next year. Please.
      I hope it will help a little bit. THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU.
      Christina

      • Thank you for posting this again. Today the 2nd anniversary and I headed to the beach to play in the waves and remember the good times.

      • This is the first thing I’ve found that is about not celebrating the anniversary of someone’s death, so thank you.

        My uncle died suddenly July 21 2 years ago, then last year my dad was in an accident on July 20–legally he died on the 21 but it was too weird to have it the same day so we mostly say it was the 20th because we don’t think he was really still alive when he died and the 21 was also my aunt and uncle’s wedding anniversary and it felt horrible to take that day away. But I have been fighting off feeling superstitious about the day and to now be reading about how to avoid the day and see that your husband died the same day is a bit strange.

        Now the one year anniversary has been looming and the closer it got the more I just felt like “why would I want to celebrate the worst day of my life? I don’t have one good memory of that day and unlike the rest of my immediate family who were with my dad before his accident, I did not see him really alive that day so his accident and being on a plane alone for hours with no way to find out if he was alive or dead and then seeing a technically live body with nothing of my dad in it and fighting with legal/medical people at the hospital to try to get organ donation stuff in time is the ONLY memory. If I was to celebrate the anniversary of the last time I saw my dad it was like 6 months ago, or the last I spoke with him it was a week or so ago (could never remember). Why would I celebrate that?

        But knowing it was coming up I have just known that my mom and sister would definitely be marking the day and that other people would be calling and messaging me about it. I have been searching the last few days for anything affirming the idea that it feels weird and inappropriate to celebrate something horrible and it’s weird that the first thing I have found is written by someone whose loved one died the same day as my uncle and my father.

        Thank you for writing about this. I’m still not sure how to manage not getting sucked in by the black hole of what the day marks. I celebrated his birthday with my family but Father’s Day was a few days before his birthday and I ran a freaking half marathon that day so I could avoid it (and then worried if my grandfather’s feelings would be hurt).

        Anyway, thank you for your post and hope you have a lovely day of commemorating horrible things tomorrow as I will try to do the same as well.

    • I agree! It was AMAZING. My husbands 1st death anniversary is around the corner. I want to skip to the next day or sleep through it! This was definitely helping! I booked myself a ticket to be with his side of the family instead and do everything he loved!

  2. Christina, Thank you so much for this writing of your experience with “anniversaries.” This has come at the most perfect time for me. I lost my husband one year ago (tomorrow) in an auto accident on the street that I live on. Needless to say, the year has been a nightmare, but I’m finding strength in each day. I’m finishing up your book, and finding it extremely helpful (along with grief counseling, and support from family and friends.) Tomorrow I will be celebrating my husband’s life by attending a fundraiser at the Jersey shore, of which he loved so much. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

  3. I don’t get on the train, per sey… I CELEBRATE that day as a remembrance of my husband. It’s a Texas Rangers game, (live or at home watching on TV) hawaiian shirts & lots of friends/family surrounding me. Doing what he absolutely loved–baseball & his signature hawaiian shirts. For year 2, last year, I added a request to everyone to do something kind and do it to remember my husband, their friend, their relative. It was so amazing to read what people did to honor that request. Not to say that my body doesn’t go into a mode of grief as the date looms (8/23) and my mind still relives those last hours when we didn’t know it was going to suddenly end w/no warning (heart attack). I just choose to have a “happy” celebration.

  4. Gosh, this is incredible, exactly how I feel. May 3 is the anniversary of my husband Bobby’s death. I dread it, waiting for it to approach, reliving those last days in hospice (Bobby died 10 weeks after diagnosis with pancreatic cancer). Tomorrow will be the third year and some days it feels as raw as the first year. Today I went and planted pansies (flower for pancreatic cancer) at the grave. All week I have been eating Scottish food for Bobby (he came to Canada when he was 16) and thinking about our amazing trips. Monday I went for a walk by the lake. I bought flowers and have placed them by his picture on the table. I don’t celebrate, I am heartbroken and sad that he died, I feel lost and empty, I miss so much about him. Sometimes memories make me smile, he was always trying to make me laugh, but mostly memories make me sad because I know there won’t be anymore. But I don’t want the day of his death to eclipse everything else we shared in the short time we were married. THANKS for a wonderful post, I may not get there all the way this year, but I will keep holding to the hope that one day it gets easier.

        • Lisa, I don’t know if you’ll ever see this post, but if you haven’t already done so, go to Pancan.org and see if there is a local affiliate chapter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network near you. My Purple Family is amazing, supportive, caring and uplifting because we’re all involved for the same reason.

          • Yes Lisa please do. Friday my train arrives for first anniversary of losing my husband to the beast of pancreatic cancer. I won’t be getting on it after reading this…. Am raw and nauseous even now but will garden and play music, and try to remember before the beast.

      • I lost my husband in Oct of 2013, in the same hospital where I work. There are days that I am okay but some days no. I try to remember him during the good times that we shared. But I’m not successful in doing this. There are days that all memories of his last days will come back as if it just happened yesterday. It breaks my heart. For the first year of his loss I was not able to function the way I used to be.Now, It is still hurts, but the pain is less. I know one day, pain will be no more and it will all be happy memories of the life we shared for more than 10 years.

  5. Christina, today is my 17 year wedding anniversary. I (we) celebrated with a quiet moment and my husbands favorite drink. On the first anniversary of his death, Oct. 2013, my friend and I celebrated by going to his favorite restaurant, ordering his favorite meal, and my friend kept askin questions, fun ones, helping me to remember, laugh, nd celebrate the life of the man I loved so much. I am so grateful for this. That friend is now my boyfriend. Love is everlasting.

  6. What wonderful thoughts, your words are the very first of their kind I have heard since losing first my husband, then my mother and then my youngest son. My father passed away many, many years ago, but I still miss his wit and his caring for his family. I really didn’t have a chance to grieve over the loss of my dear husband as my mother needed me to get her through her final days on earth. I thought perhaps the worst was behind me, but I was blindsided by the loss of my 38 year old son. There are days when I think I can’t really go on, but then I do and am fortunate enough to have the support of family and friends. You are absolutely right when you say we should celebrate their lives as I am most happiest these days when I can remember something silly or funny or caring my loved ones did that made them the terrific people they were. They have all definitely left a hole in my heart, but I do hold them there and hopefully one day the hole will get smaller and smaller. I also want to say to anyone going through much the same things I am that once you resolve yourself that they are not coming back you can begin to think of them as not visibly with you, but right there beside you forever. Thank you again for your wonderful insights into what we who have lost loved ones are going through.

  7. I see all losses with two dates.. Earthly Birthdate and Heavenly Birthdate… that anniversary train one , we all ride.. at first.. and then what you talked about makes sense… our significant dates can be spent in healthier ways. I love the way you don’t sugar coat this anniversary train… No better way to tell the story than to tell the truth…

  8. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for saying something that I have often thought. I never wanted to mark those days so I never did. I have always continued to celebrate my Dad’s birthday and Father’s Day. Those are actually good days where we go to his favourite restaurants, order his favourite meal and talk about the fun it was to go out to dinner with him. I’m still sad my Dad has died but I was so lucky to have had him a a Dad for 50 years. I try to remember all the really good times. It makes me feel so much better.

  9. I celebrate my son’s untimely death by having a party every year for family and friends. I know that is what he would want. His friends and family enjoying and recalling all the great memories he provided us. Sometimes the brightest light burns the shortest amount of time.

  10. I don’t have an anniversary train yet, I’m so lucky. When the inevitable day comes I hope I remember your wise words. Thanks in advance.

  11. Thank you for these comforting words. It will be in12 years tomorrow since my husband, Walt, went to be with our Lord. While I’m always at “the station” every May 4th, aI no longer get on the train. I celebrate his legacy by being thankful for our two wonderful sons and all the happy memories we made in our almost 30 years together. GOD BLESS all of you.

  12. I’m still stuck in counting the weeks. 9 weeks yesterday. I will bookmark this so I can come back often. Thank you.

    • Oh Kris my heart hurts for you. Take care of you. That pain in the beginning is indescribable xoxo

  13. The 1 year anniversary of my life’s love death is Friday. I plan to avoid the anniversary train by sharing memories and laughter with our family and friends. Also will plant a yellow rose in his memory, something he wanted to do but hadn’t gotten around to. He asked for a party when he died and I was able to honor his wishes, I know I can stay off the anniversary train. A bold statement I hope I can live up to.

  14. Christina,
    Hard message to read. I could not agree more with your perspective on the ‘death-day’. For me, I still need to honor the day my son died, simply because it signifies the beginning of all my ‘second firsts’ from that day forward – I take the day for myself, turn up the self-care button and find gratitude in everything! ;). The big train I feel is the one coming this week, Mother’s Day… ugh… tough one for me and many other mother’s. *hugs* to you my friend, thank you for your wisdom! 🙂

  15. I love the idea of the Heavenly Birthday. My 3rd is fast approaching. We were married 32 years.

  16. As soon as Spring hit…I was standing on the platform. Never mind his death day isn’t until May 29. This is the 2nd year, and I don’t WANT to get on the train, but I almost feel compelled to. I know that will only make sense to those of you who wait on your own trains. Even right now, I feel antsy about it. Do I wait, do I run….Maybe this year I will stand on the platform and wave as the train rumbles by…I guess I won’t know until it comes.
    I know my husband doesn’t care. He’s dead. I care, I think. I don’t know. Ya know?
    I will see you ar CWW 🙂

  17. I absolutely love this. This message is long overdue for this widow. Thank you so much, Christina. My three year is coming up & will work hard at remembering your words.

  18. I love the idea of asking family and friends to do something good on that day in his honor. And I think I’ll ask them to “reply all” so we can see how much good was done. I also have decided to gift an organization he would have supported each “heavenly birthday” with a monetary donation in his memory. This year it will be a gift to a clinic for Amish children who have genetic disorders to honor him as a scientist and wonderful grandfather.

  19. today is that day for me. it is 2 years since my son at 19 was murdered. I dont know how else to look at this day. it is his death day. I didnt know it til 2am on the 7th. I cant stop thinking about that last day. how he was shot at 935pm but didnt die til 1107pm. did he suffer? what was going on that night what happened why why why! I dont know how to avoid this death day train I just dont. he was 19 just a boy too young. senseless. and on top . of all this we have court on friday still trying to get justice for my boy…i never knew one could feel so much sadness and anger all at once..

  20. On July 2nd my husband will be gone for one year. I decided back in February that I was not going to “celebrate” his death, but his LIFE. His birthday was April 8th, and that following weekend we had a birthday bash for him. We cooked chicken wings (His favorite to cook for his friends), had a bouncy house for the kids and did a balloon launch, over 150 balloons. I had people write whatever they wanted to on the balloon. Either to him or anyone else they chose. We were married for 17 years and have two amazing sons, 11 and 6 year old. I prefer that when July 2nd comes around that my kids know it as any other day, not the day their Dad went to Heaven. Sure they’ll figure it out when they are older, but I don’t always want it to be a bad day for them, and their dad would not have wanted it that way either. I also have the opportunity to go to Poland with my church. We return on the one year anniversary of him being gone. That was another sign to me that Allen would not want us to dwell on the day he died, but remember his life! So, thank you for this message, and I have already chosen not to get on this train!!

  21. I lost my husband of 25 years coming up on nine years ago. A few years later my son and his wife had a baby on that same day….the death day. I always looked at it as my husband giving me a new way to celebrate that day in August. To top it off, my daughter in law’s birthday is the same as my husbands so again, I have a new reason to celebrate that day as well. When I lost my son (only child) almost three years ago, well that is still a very hard day for me. I am approaching his 3rd anniversary of his death day and I hope I also can run from the platform this year. I do, however, try to honor his birthday each year by doing something special such as a three day vacation to somewhere I’ve never been. And also because having lost both my husband and son at such young ages I am very aware of how short life can be. Therefore, I have chosen to celebrate each of MY remaining birthdays with a huge bucket list item. Two years ago it was a week in Manhattan and last year I spent a week touring the California coastline up to Nappa Valley. This year I will turn the big 50 and am planning a trip to Italy. It’s so hard to find the joy in life after loss but they would want me to do big things on these days instead of stay in the cloud of grief.

  22. You are just what the doctor ordered. Fantastic illustration. My journey since John’s passing has been very different than most,i have celebrated his life and been thankful for our years together from day 1 of widowhood, for me i carry on the legacy of love and so many awesome memories he gave me.

  23. Last year’s death anniversary, the 5th year, was unexpectedly hard for me. Maybe it’s because it was the 5th year. Then I noticed that this year’s anniversary fell on the same day that he passed, Saturday. I expected even a rougher time than the 5th. I even took two weeks off work in anticipation for it. I was a complete mess at work the 5th year and didn’t want a repeat. Unbelievably, it came and went. I thought about it, but don’t recall crying. Even with the flight issues I was having that day and the fact I was getting sick. I was OK. It will never be OK that he’s gone. But, I will be OK

  24. I needed this today as my only daughter died 19 months ago on the 23rd of this month. I feel as my days are getting worse instead of easier. I am alone in this grief and wish i had support, it would help just to have someone call and talk about her to me. After reading this hopefully i can start healing instead of hurting so much that she is gone.

    • Hi Linda, I’m Cheryl, I found this web page and find comfort her was widowed 15 years ago. I wish I had it back in the early days of my loss, I had lots of family and friends who tried to help regardless of their lacking of the tools to help more effectively! I have a daughter myself so my heart breaks for your loss! I would love to have you talk to me about your daughter and share your story…anytime! Love&hugs

  25. Thank you for sharing this I am, no was having a pity party as today marks the 10 month anniversary of my husband ‘s death but now I am going to take the grandkids to the Aquarium. Again thank you.

  26. This is very powerful and I hope hope hope I can remember not to climb on board the anniversary train…..my Mom passed the day after my birthday one year ago 1-25 and I have been having a very hard time……thank you for these wise words.

  27. This is such a great message for me, I have been struggling with my partner’s death. I had 2 long-term relationships they both passed on the same day 16 years apart. I’ve been riding that death train for two years. This September I’m gonna try to avoid this train. Thank you for your message

  28. Christina,
    Thank you for your posts, the 1 yr anniversary of my husbands suicide will occur 5 days after my first borns wedding. It will be a very difficult time and we will do our best to move forward as a family. My son will put off his honeymoon and the 6 of us will spend time at Disney with other family members. To go home after the wedding will be too difficult for us.

  29. How To Grieve
    “After the first death, there is no other,” wrote Dylan Thomas. That doesn’t mean the ones that come after won’t break your heart, but it’s the first one that punches your soul. Welcome, fellow human, to a different world than the one you woke up to this morning. The air’s different here: so is the scenery. Your knees don’t work so well; in fact, you may want to fall to them. For a precious little while, you are allowed to be stunned in silence, or to shriek or to talk-recounting stories of who he was, what he meant to you and how it all came to an end. Tell those stories. Some people may say Enough of This Drama Is Enough. Ignore them. If you treat yourself gently, someday soon you’ll hear the faint but steady voice of your own good sense.
    For some of us the stay in this world seems endless. But time passes and, truly, would those we grieve for want us to mope? We’ll return to this world all too soon, but in the meantime the garden needs weeding , the bills need paying. For you my sweet friend, remember; Those we have held in our arms for a little while, we hold in our hearts forever!
    You can shed tears because he is gone, or you can smile because he lived. You can close you eyes and pray that he’ll come back, or you can open your eyes and see all he’s left. Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him, or you can be full of the love you shared. You can turn your back on tomorrow and live in yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday. You can remember him and only that he’s gone, or you can cherish his memory and let it live on. You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back, or you can do what he’d want: SMILE, open your eyes, Love and Go On.

    • Thanks for such beautiful words….if you don’t mind, as I’m approaching my husband’s first death anniversary, I would like to print your post and share it with family and friends on his memorial. …. of course with your respective credit. .. Please advise.

    • I would like to use this in some way too, if you permit. This is breathtaking. I am planning to go to our favorite vacation spot by myself on the first anniversary of my dear husband’s death on Oct. 6.

  30. Yea…I could hear the thunder of the oncoming train – due 7/30/14. – 3 years. Stomach churning. Weepy. Knowing I’ll re-read the scores of sympathy cards and all our kept special event cards. Then, yesterday, after silently singing, Lord, ‘wash away my sorrow’ over and over for days, I felt led to dispose of all of the cards, poems, letters – the lot. So, I did. The past, the life we had does not exist any more and there is no need to remain entangled in the pain and sorrow of loss, and what was. I feel freer and more at peace, today. All loss is horrible. Whether it is your spouse, child, marriage, job or car keys…but I’m about ready to live life in all it’s fullness, again. So are our children. And that’s okay. It’s okay not to even step onto the platform. Thank you, Christina.

  31. Am I ever so grateful to have found this!! And YOU!! I have been “stuck” for well, I guess it started in 1998..with the daeths one by one of my small family. My Uncle committed suicide, on my birthday that year, and I was so shocked, and caught off guard, that I barely got back on my feet, and my Dad went into the hospital, Sept of 1999, to die 11 days later. The rug was pulled from under me.. I NEVER thought of Dad dying, he was 49..and more a “health nut” than anyone I’ve ever known, died of stomach cancer, no-one (but him) knew. And on and on the SHOCKS came, and I have finally gotten so “out of whack” that I’m now socially inept, and awkward, and it seems my brain and emotions (and mouth) are ALL against me..I’m so grateful, I will be reading ALL I can that you’ve written!! God Bless YOU…YOU are HELPING soooo many with what you are doing!!! <3

  32. A link to this just showed up in my Facebook feed … perfect timing. I have tried hard right from the beginning to not ‘celebrate’ the day of my husband’s death but that train sure does have a way of rolling in on the tracks anyway. It seems to hit me harder in the days before … when we didn’t know it was coming, when we had to make the hospice decision. I’ve allowed myself to feel it and re-read our CaringBridge journal to gain perspective. But this year – #4 – I will be traveling and I’ve had to actually think about where I want to be and what I want to be doing on “that” day. I could spend it with family in Michigan … but they weren’t there for me during his illness and death and I don’t want those hurts to rise to the surface again. I could be on an actual train from Windsor to Toronto (for Camp Widow) … one that my husband & I took a couple of times. Instead, I think I’m going to spend the day in between those spots, saying goodbye to family the evening before and heading over to Windsor to spend the day in a hotel along the river, near some gardens, no memories of my life ‘before’, but a place for me to just remember how very, very lucky I was to have this amazing man choose me to spend his life with.

  33. I lost both my parents in July for many years I’ve hated this month and this year I asked myself how long do I have to suffer how long do I have to fill these feelings when it came to their anniversary and honestly this year was the first year I didn’t get on the train I was satisfied with myself that I was able to remember and feel but didn’t take that ride. I’ve searched for many years to figure out how to cope and deal with the grief the anger and the guilt of being an adolescent teenager losing her mother or a young wife and mother losing her father and not knowing how to deal with it searching where to go to find answers when the whole time they were within me. I was the one that kept choosing to get on that train thinking in my brain that if I kept remembering kept feeling it might ease the unpleasant feelings I had inside when in all actuality all it was doing was holding me back from moving on and living the life they would have wanted me to. It was two months after my graduation from high school that I lost my mom and I was 24 when I lost my dad my brothers are all way older and I felt it was an unfair I didn’t get the time with them that they had. But now I see that I got their individual times I got one on one and more experience (they had me late in life). So the things that they got were blessings and memories and learning from them and the things that I got were my blessings. so from now on when July comes along I will smile to the heavens and I will thank them for everything they gave me I will remember them with happy memories instead of sad ones because they lived before they died. The day that they went away is not the day that defines. to all you who are grieving I’m sorry for your loss no matter the time that is past whether it was yesterday a week a year or 20 years ago it’s all still hurts from day to day but I’ve found when it hurts I think of them and our memories I find a good one and I smile or I recreate it with my children and pass on a memory to them. Might not work for everybody but it works for me. Good luck my heart is with you and I hope you guys have a blessed day.

  34. On our first anniversary, my daughters and I remembered my husband. At this point, I cannot even remember exactly what we did. At varying anniversaries: father’s day, Greg’s birthday, his death day (I’ve heard it called his angel day), we go somewhere, just the four of us, somewhere he would have liked: the Smithsonian museum, the Marine Corps museum.

    But, what I remember most about the first anniversary was this subconscious thought, “okay, I’ve done everything I’m supposed to…I’ve been the strong, grieving widow, taking care of three daughters, attending to their tears as well as my own, filling out paperwork for survivor benefits, changing names on car titles, filing for life insurance, etc, etc. – Now that I’ve done all of those things, it’s time to bring him back.”

    It was such a weird thought/feeling. In reality, of course I knew he was not coming back. But, somewhere deep in my heart I felt like if I did everything “right” he would be returned to me. I would love to say that I have had a revelation, I’ve “gotten over” that feeling, but it still rears its head every now and then.

    • For the past since my husband of 43 years death, I realized the reason I couldn’t make changes to my life was because I was also waiting for him to return. Recently have begun to focus on what I want. It seems selfish but since it’s just me now there is no other choice if I intend to find some measure of contentment with this life I know have.

  35. Dear Christina, I am the worse of the Anniversary train. Instead, of counting years & months, I count weeks. I am close to 20 months. I am 95 weeks of my husband’s loss. Each Saturday night I send a message to my lost husband. I have been trying to weed out his stuff. All of it is hard. I just started the 30 messages a few days ago. Thank you for the help. I’m in the year of the 2s. 2 Wedding Anniversaries, Birthdays, Labor Days, ect… It is hard. Thank you for your help.

  36. Interesting timing since my husbands death date is coming Oct 16th. It will then be 1 year since he has departed. I like the idea of celebrating his life versus remembering his last day, and I am struggling to find that inner strength that will allow me to do just that. I choose to want to celebrate how we met, the way he always would say “I love me too” when told we loved him. It was a family joke that was always followed by “I love you too”

    Yet I know that first day is coming, so maybe I should talk to my daughter here in the same town with me and we should plan to go out, take my grand-daughter and make a new memory in his honor. Keeping busy, just might make that train rumble by with a passing thought of “Oh, a year already? I love and miss you and today my love I plan to celebrate everything you” That’s the plan…<3

  37. I met a young woman at the hospital one day while I was waiting for a friend. We started talking and she told me her brother had passed a year ago, on this date. She said she didn’t didn’t know what to do, given the circumstance. She was obviously sad and feeling lost.
    I asked “what did your brother like to do?”. She said, “paintball”. I watched her face light up! There… you have it! She called a group of friends together and they all went to out to play!
    Celebrate each moment in your own way or in their’s!

  38. Thank you for this. I used to wait for that train every year. It just passed by for the tenth time a few days ago. In the months and weeks leading up to it, I worried I would not commemorate the day “properly.” But when the day arrived, I chose to run away. It was liberating and I think I finally broke that cycle.

  39. Well, sadly this has been my first year of firsts. I stood at that platform three times this year. January 2013, I lost my mom. May 1, 2013 I lost my husband to cancer that had only been diagnosed for 3 weeks, and today October 5, I stand at that platform again, because the last death of 2013 was my dad. I’m trying…..and your 30 days of firsts are helping.

  40. I love your post. My husband of 29 years has been gone for nearly four months. Our anniversary was October 11th and though I really thought I was okay and making some progress, by the next day I was listless again with a horrible headache. I don’t seem to see these things coming. I have things that must be done but I don’t want to do them. In fact I feel like I’m powerless. I’m just so tired. I am in horrible financial shape and I don’t know what to do about that. Just give me a few good days God. I was always so strong, for me and everyone else. I have learned to stay away from toxic people! Anyway, I want to take your class. Is it too soon. I want to be a functioning woman again, able be with my grandchildren. Thanks for listening. Love you all very much. Jan

  41. Just stood at that platform 5 days ago, my first death day. I went to my sons’ house at the Beach as they did not want me home – where my husband died a year ago.
    We had crab legs, my husbands’ favorite meal to make. We toasted with his favorite drink. We walked on the beach. And we did not get on that train that night.
    And an AMAZING thing happened, my husbands sister became a first time grandmother on that day. From death, comes life – and my new niece!

  42. A few weeks ago was the 5th anniversary of his crossing over. Although the date was in my mind, I didn’t jump on the pity train. That day also marked the first time I was able to finally admit to myself that I WAS GOING TO BE OKAY. 🙂 Thank you for all your posts and encouragement over the past few years.

  43. Thank you for sharing. In 1993, my infant son passed away when he was 5 months old. I have been getting on the anniversary train almost every year since. To make the anniversary worse, he died on December 23. Two days before Christmas, six days before my birthday, eight days before his older sister’s birthday, seven years and six months before his little sister’s birthday. December holds very, very mixed emotions for me. I hate, with everything I am, the anniversary train, mostly because it’s just another awful reminder. But, I have often felt that if I didn’t get on it, I was somehow dishonoring his passing. Feeling guilty that I’m still here and he is not. I know that’s not where he is and it is not how he would want me to memorialize him. My head knows this, and sometimes, even my heart. Every year is different–some ok, some bad, some terrible. No two have been the same. Parents shouldn’t have to bury their child, so getting off this train is still a work in progress, year-to-year. Not exactly sure what to do with that memory.

  44. Thank you so much Christina………you are so helpful, you have been throughout most of this past year since I lost my husband. I found you on FB and have been reading your book. November 23rd will be the 1st anniversary of my husbands death. He fought 4 1/2 years against Leukemia. He wanted to live, to stay with me, he was my hero, the love of my life for 24 years. I have been dreading the “Anniversary”. I don’t want to get on that train. You have helped me and just in time. I will be celebrating his life & our time together. Thank you!

  45. Christina, I remembered seeing your post on the anniversary train and had to search for it. Our 34th wedding anniversary is Saturday, Nov. 22nd. He has been gone since 6-28-14. My first without him. The tears are already starting, along with the dread of seeing that day approach. Your words helped me so much. I want to celebrate his life, our life, with our kids and grandkids and not have this black cloud hanging over all of us on the anniversary days. Pray for me as I try to step off the anniversary train and into a life that will celebrate Rick’s life.

  46. Christina,
    I have never heard it put like this. So beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing! I am going to save to my Facebook Home Page. I have friends that also need this. The perfect time of the year to give us all a boost and remember the ones we have lost with a smile instead of a tear.
    Thanks Again,
    JOY

  47. It’s 2 years minus one month today. This couldn’t have come to me at more perfect time. Meant to be, for sure. Thank you. Thank you. Today I will go put her Christmas tree on her grave. A month from today we will go to her favorite resturant for lunch and celebrate her. That is the only thing I know for sure. “Her” is my mom. My brave, beautiful mom.

  48. I had followed this idea by some form of self preservation I suppose, but also to honor the memory of my husband. After the funeral, and the 1st year of his death arrived, I had decided to honor his life spiritually instead of the memory of his death. I chose to hold a memorial service at the religion denomination that our family observed. At first everyone thought It was not a good idea, and that I was just rehashing the pain for them. I, now much more able to put a word or thought together as compared to the day of the funeral, had written eulogy to the memory of Glenn. After the service, the whole family and friends went to the backyard of my closest friend, and we catered food. It was during memorial day weekend. I didn’t listen to any negative prior suggestions when I planned this because, I had felt that the scrutiny of anyone was not to be the basis of my plan. It was my husband, and my personal loss, and if they chose not to come, it would be their prerogative. But at the end of the day, everyone thanked me so much, including his 3 sisters who traveled some distance to come. We were all happy to reunite the family and friends and all of us felt he was at peace, from such a spiritual atmosphere during the memorial. The day was magic, and I felt we honored his life, as I had knew he would want us to. I cannot say, that the pain was lessened at the time, but the feeling inside that I did something great for him and his memory, and all that remembered and loved him, was something that helped me to push forward just a bit more. The 2nd year, was now a totally different plan that just came by chance happening. Our favorite band that me and my husband had followed, and went to many concerts together, just happened to be in my town for one day, the exact day of the 2nd year anniversary of his death. I was compelled to go. In the end, my 3 best friends and I bought the tickets, rented a limo, and went to celebrate the fun times that my husband and I enjoyed watching his favorite band. It was almost as if he was sending this gift back to me, saying go ahead, its okay to still have fun..We all did remember him, honor him, laugh together about his humor his life, and remembered how much he loved music. The night was a blast. I wish, I could savor that fun, everyday after that, but greif is a process, and everyday is not the same to me. Some days I still cry, almost 5 years later, but somedays I laugh at his jokes, and I try hard to wake up with a smile, to let him know I am trying go forward, as he would want me to. Thanks again Christina for allowing me to share my experiences with grief.

  49. Wow! That was meant to be sent to me. One of the last things my fiancé and I did before he died was go on a nice train ride. We took my grandson. It was suppose to be train and boat, but, the boat was at its max and we couldn’t go. We went to get our money back, but, instead he was given 2 adult an 2 children passes to go back. I still have the passes and I think I will use them on August 13th, the day Lenny died. So with no disrespect, I think I have to take the train. Hopefully, with joy and great memories. I almost can’t wait and maybe I can make it a tradition in memory of Lenny. The man who had to leave me way to soon. Thank you for giving me something to look forward to Christine. Your 30 day program is helping more than you know.

  50. Thanks for this, Christina! I’m working at reframing this day. A year ago today my Mom got to have lunch in the best place ever! It was so very cold here, much like it is today.
    I hope to be able to do okay today, with the phone calls from my one brother, and my niece… Possibly other calls, too. If I don’t do well, I’ll be as kind to myself as possible.
    Thanks again, Christina!

  51. Tomorrow marks one year since my mother died. It’s all still fresh although most days I function well enough. Your train analogy was spot-on and perfectly described my thought process over the last week (& even how I felt on the 12th of each month for the first 6 months after mom died). My mind is a mess because I feel like I see this train (wreck) of grief approaching days or weeks in advance (Mother’s Day, her 56th birthday 8/10 & Thanksgiving were especially rough), and, because I feel this “grief storm” approaching, I feel like I should be able to control or avoid it… but I can’t.

    Even if I choose not to acknowledge the reason behind my subdued feelings, they still manifest in apathy, feelings of detachment, fatigue, binge shopping (or binge traveling, socializing or eating) that leaves me with a still empty heart and emptier savings. For right now, I think it is ok (for me) to indulge that one day in remembering… either by doing things they love and choosing to be “happy” or giving in to a good ugly cry because you shouldn’t hold all of that in… you want it to leave with the train the next day.

    I am so thankful for all of the thoughts shared both by the author and the commentators. They are true words of healing because they come from people who speak to exactly what I’m going through. I look forward to reading more and sharing with others. God bless you all. Tancy

  52. The timing of this is surreal. All this week I have thought about anniversaries. Not just the anniversary of my husbands passing, but about all of those anniversaries… Everyday is an anniversary of something wonderful in my life that will never be again. Dave and I cherished our love and spent each and every day sharing our love. So instead of grieving for what I can no longer have here in this life, I’m trying to simply remember and celebrate all of our special moments together. I recently came upon my box of ticket stubs from various events that I have attended in my life and I came upon these… 2 tickets to Blue Rodeo, held on Friday, Jan. 16, 2004 at the Festival Theater. This was our first “real date”. We had had lunch together a few times at Rotary and had gone out for dinner once before, but this was our first Date. When Dave picked me up, he greeted me with a kiss. We held hands all through the concert (a tradition which continued through every concert and play we ever attended together—actually it was always my favourite part of going to an event with Dave). We went out for wings and beer afterwards. At some point during the night he told me I was the perfect woman for him. It was a magical night and the beginning of a magical life together.
    When I first found these tickets, my initial reaction was, oh no, another awful reminder of an anniversary to get through of remembering what I have lost. But thanks to some amazing friends, who have encouraged me to just be me, I enjoyed an amazing evening of “Shoes and Brews” and even ended the evening enjoying a beer in the very same pub that Dave and I went to 11 years ago. And it was a happy night for me.
    I am never going to stop loving my husband and I will never forget the incredible life we had together. But I am coming to acknowledge that grief is only a part of me and not the whole of me. I am a work in progress… some days my new master plan seems to be working out okay, others not so much… but it’s progress nonetheless.

    “The Anniversary” happened for us in October and while I did “board the train” for part of the day, we ended the day in a way that my husband would have approved of. I invited family and friends to join us at Dave’s favourite restaurant and we exchanged stories of Dave’s Random Acts of Kindness…there were a lot and it felt really good to hear all the wonderful things about the kindness of my husband.

    Thank you for your words of encouragement.

  53. I have no idea how I found this today. The one year anniversary of my husbands death is tomorrow at 4:45 am. Last year right now I was cuddled up next to him, knowing he was not going to wake in the morning. He fought cancer for 20 months. He was only 43. We have 2 beautiful little girls. Together for 20 years, married for 17&1/2. I absolutely hate my life without him. Thank you for somehow sending this to me.
    I’m sure there will be lots of tears tonight, I’m sure there will be even more tomorrow.
    I have no choice but to make it through for our daughters.

  54. My husband died 2 years ago. We both had spouses who died, before we got married. George refused to acknowledge his first wife’s death anniversary. He said he wanted to remember her life, not her death. That has helped me so much as I remember him! It lets me remember his Life, not his illness and death. Yay, George!

  55. Wonderful message Christina – my 1 year will be in April but several months ago I read someone’s message about this anniversary and called it his “first heavenly birthday”. I thought that was such a better way to think of it that I let his whole family in Pa. (I’m in NM) know that I’d fly home and we’d celebrate it this way. Well now that I’m getting closer I don’t feel like taking off from teaching, getting on a plane, flying all day to do this. I guess I have the right to say I changed my mind. I’ll wait till I get closer to the day to decide. That is a big thing I have learned so far – watch out for planning! Thanks for being there for us, just finished the book…so helpful. Lel

  56. It’s taken 6 anniversaries for me to finally let the train pass without my getting on it. This April, for #7, I will embrace the day Bill was freed from the bonds of Parkinson’s….and I know he’s in heaven watching down on me. Those “little signs” keep coming, urging me to start living again, and I will. Thank you for all of your shared thoughts and feelings. You will never realize how many people you have helped!

  57. Thank you so much, this was a timely read. We are fast approaching my son’s one year. He passed the day after he turned 33. We did celebrate his life with 10 of his closest friends and family going to his favorite state Colorado and visiting his favorite sites and climbing his favorite trails. It was an amazing trip. We cried, we laughed, but we celebrated! This Feb. 2015, we need to again celebrate his life and all the joy he brought into our world! Thank you so much for this reading. God bless all those who have lost a loved one!

  58. I am so glad to have found this. The first anniversary of my husband’s death is coming up in about 30 days. My girls are already asking what I want to ‘do’. I will certainly not be getting on the train. I haven’t decided, just yet, but I won’t be waiting at the station with a heavy heart.
    Thank you so much for your thoughts and your voice. May God Bless you and your family!

  59. Wow! My husband death date is fastly approaching. March 1,2014 was the day my whole world changed forever. I find myself anticipating this date. I think of it as if I am waiting for something to happen. I try to vision what will that day be like. Will I cry,scream or just completly shut down. I am just now getting to the point where I know I must accept what has happen. Reading this article was just conformation that I MUST LIVE! I know this is what my husband would have wanted.

  60. I believe this is a success story. The first two anniversaries after my husband’s passing were rough, as you can imagine. A couple of my dear friends remembered and commemorated the day. It was nice to be remembered. Then, almost randomly, the day took on a new meaning. My daughter and son-in-law opened a cross fit gym on that day., not on purpose, it’s just the day they got the keys. The first two years after the gym was opened, the date was celebrated with a competition that honored Wounded Warriors. Proceeds from those events benefitted Wounded Warriors. This year, on the third anniversary of the gym and the fifth anniversary of losing my husband and my daughters’ father, they are doing a competition to benefit a local agency that helps children who have lost a parent. I love this! I feel like we are making wonderful memories. My husband’s life needs to be celebrated. The gym being a successful small business needs to be celebrated. We will all be together and we will be helping others who are traveling this journey. We can actually begin to look forward to the day with joy knowing people are being helped instead of total dread. Yay!

  61. Amazingly beautiful. My husband (Ed Basham) passed away on April 7, 2015. We have had his birthday come (May 27th), which was so hard and now Father’s Day is approaching. We please keep us in prayers

  62. Thank you very much for this. My ex-husband (the father of my daughter) died 3 months after being diagnosed with Lung Cancer. It will be 1 year in July. My daughter just asked me the other day what we could do. I want her to read this. To help her understand that it doesn’t have to be a sad, mourning day but a day to do something special.
    Thank you again.
    Heidi

  63. my train is coming, its the first year, its coming on 9/13, its coming a day after my husband would be turning 53, its coming a few weeks after 7/31 which would have been our 13th wedding anniversary, its coming a few weeks after 8/2, my 47th birthday. i can hear it now,its all i can hear, and its loud and silent all at once, i can hear the roar, the whistle blowing, but i can hear the deafening silence in others, when i look at them, they don’t hear it at all! i guess its because its the first year, I’m almost fixated on it, laser focused if you will. i don’t want to be. i have plans, i will not be here that day, or that entire weekend for a matter of fact, but it does not stop the lead up to it, it does not stop the sound of the tracks!

  64. 11-29 changed for me this year, maybe it was a blessing in disguise, but the fact that someone else decided to act out drastically, pretty much tainted the day, so a negative times a negative is a positive, right? So from here on out, 11/29 will be a POSITIVE day for my kids and I <3 thank you for this…

  65. My husband of almost 44 years passed away January -14,2015. I had retired five months earlier. We were looking to spend more time together and to create our new kitchen renovation. I am 68 years old living in my own home for the first time by myself. My son 36 my daughter 41 live in their own homes. I am trying to think of someway to honor my husband’s memory. If you have any ideas please let me know

  66. I’m coming up on the 2 year anniversary of my husband’s passing (1/22/14). He was only 48 years old when he became ill and we had 28 wonderful years together. He only survived 38 days after becoming ill. I remember his final days like it was yesterday. I only wish I knew what little time we had left together. He was my whole world and I don’t know that I will ever be able to get off the train. You just want the life you had together back and the hardest part is knowing that can’t happen. I will continue to move forward the best that I know how and from this day on learn to honor his memory. The posts here are so helpful and to know you are not on this train alone gives me strength and hope. My blessings go out to all of you !!!

  67. Today marks one year my love has been gone. This post is exactly what I needed. I dont want to get on that train every year. It hurts like hell and it feels like it just happened yesterday but all I want to do is smile and remember the love. My husband passed at thirty-five years old as well. This gave me the motivation I needed to take control of this day and make new memories celebrating him. Thanks for this.

  68. My story is the same, but yet different. I was in a very abusive relationship, only I couldn’t see just how abusive until after my late husband passed away. He was verbally, mentally, and emotionally abusive. That’s all I knew. I didn’t know how to be without him and our life. Until now….
    I’m currently in year 5 and last year was the first time that both his birthday and the anniversary of his passing came and went and I didn’t mourn, celebrate, remember, or do anything for that matter. I thank GOD everyday that I was able to get off that damn train and let the person that was hiding away inside myself out.

  69. Thank you so much for your insight. My kids and I decided not to get on the “death train” but rather to acknowledge my sweet husbands’ birthday. When we experience the end of the first year in which he has not been physically with us, we will hold the events, memories and people who remind us of him close to our hearts. Thank you for the validation!

  70. Loved this article. I guess you have a book it sounds like I must get. The 1st anniversary of my husband’s passing will be coming up in August. Five months away and it has already been weighing on my mind. After reading this I may plan a trip to the beach with our daughter where we loved to go and celebrate his life and our love for him instead of spending the day home alone and crying. Thanks for the encouraging advice.

  71. It’s my husbands death day today. So glad i wondered what you think about the Anniversary day. This might be my first of 6 anniversaries that is the healthiest option for my little family. Thank you Christina

  72. Today is my Husband Dave’s Anniversary. It’s 3 years since he left us so suddenly and unexpected with a massive heart attach. My frantic CPR for 10 minutes, encouragement to come back for our daughter’s wedding in four months, could not save my love of 37 years and father of our three children. It still hurts so much as to WHY he had to go.
    I have faced many “firsts” since then and hope that he is proud of me and our children. We have a gorgeous grandson aged 17 months and another due in 2 weeks. Our grandson points to his photo when asked “where is Granddad”. It all helps so much to have such a lovely family around me.

  73. I loved reading this! My husband died on April 3, 2015, one week after being diagnosed with liver cancer. On the anniversary, my kids and stepkids (ages 12-34) spent the day laughing and remembering their dad. We told stories and talked about how annoying he could be. There were a few tears but mostly it was a happy day. We had dinner together and we took coffee and donuts to the nurses that treated him for the brief time he was hospitalized. We miss him dearly but for us, the emotions catch us at odd times, such as flat tires and trying to put a tent up for our camping trip. We don’t get tied into anniversaries. People think we are crazy but it works for us.

  74. Today August 21st, is my one month anniversary. Yes my best friend my lover my companion also left this life on July 21,2016. A friend of mine shared this site and book with me. I want to thank you for being out there sharing experiences as I do no feel so alone. I thank everyone for sharing their stories. I feel better knowing what I am going through is quite normal. Bless you!

  75. Nov 16 will be the one year anniversary of my husband of 30 year’s death. I still cry every day when I am alone, although I go on with work and family and all. I am taking the day off work and I don’t know what I will do but I think I may go tot he nature park. Or maybe I will just not get out of bed. I hate that it has been a whole year, I hate the thought of the years ahead. I do see a counselor. I don’t want the rest of my life to be a waste but I really don’t know what to do. I can retire in about 7 to 10 years. But to what? I pray God will lead me.

  76. Thank you so much for this! I am not yet to the first year, but I know I want to celebrate my husband and not commemorate the day I lost him. This just makes so much sense!
    Sometimes people look at my rather sideways as if they think I am not sad enough. They don’t know what is in my heart, but more than that they don’t know that I have decided I will not be defined my this and that I am ready for the what the universe has in store for me.

  77. I just stumbled upon this site. Perhaps I was meant to. My husband passed away 12 1/2 weeks ago. I’m still trying to figure life out. It’s a lonely life, I know that. I have changed a lot already. I guess my biggest surprise is how much his death changed me but nobody else seems to have changed. Life goes on.

    • That’s the sucky part (at first) is that life does go on as if nothing was ripped from you. Today is 18 months to the day I lost my best friend, just two weeks after we found out her breast cancer came back with a vengeance. You’ll grieve forever, but as time goes on it gets different. Please be gentle with yourself.

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Christina Rasmussen

Welcome to the Message in a Bottle page, here you will find wisdom, truth and tools for you to start over. Make sure you sign up at the top to be sure to receive it in your inbox every Friday.