Today is the seventh death anniversary of my daughter. As I’m typing it, I feel the strangeness of this sentence. I stop mid-sentence and find myself somewhat confused. How do I deal with something that I wish wouldn’t be real, year after year?
Death Anniversary: The body remembers
The week leading up to today was a mix of waking up in the early hours of the morning, usually, around 4-5 am* without being able to go back to sleep, general lethargy and lack of motivation. ‘What’s the point anyway?’ was the thought that kept circling in my head, without any place to rest.
The body remembers more than we think or are conscious of and not just because Facebook memories remind us. During the year, I don’t consciously think of my pregnancy until the week or days before the date I gave birth. It’s as if the body gently gets in touch with what happens during that time of the year, last year, or even many years ago, especially when it was highly emotional.
Replaying the memory
This year, my daughter serendipitously asked about childbirth the day before her birthday. “Mummy, did it hurt?” she asked gently. “No, it didn’t hurt because I couldn’t feel from my tummy down to my legs.” Our conversation led to me role-playing what happens during a C-section and in our specific case. We went on to have a look at pictures from that time, pictures I hadn’t looked at in a long while.
After a while, she started to stir on my lap and I knew she had seen enough. I continued for a while on my own, being swept away by the memories. Looking back, I notice I went beyond the point of ‘it’s enough now’.
Signs and symptoms
There are some signs that seem to repeat themselves over the years in the days around the death anniversary:
- Lack of or trouble sleeping
- Change in appetite
- Increased tendency for inner reflection
- Increased moodiness
- Avoidance of social activities or chatting
- Heightened fear of my child being forgotten
My way to deal with those signs is to give myself space to defer any self-expectations. This is not as easy as it sounds. Life still happens around me.
Last year, on the 6th anniversary I made this video which still rings true today. I speak about the ways you can support me or another bereaved parent. Watch it here: Death Anniversary
What helps you on a day like this?