Some days are better than others. That is a fact of life. There are days that you look forward to, long for, and treasure when finally they arrive. Others you dread with fear and trepidation, wishing you could skip over them and avoid the pain and unpleasantness they are bound to present. The calendar dates that mark anniversaries can certainly fall in this latter category.

Types of anniversaries vary. Some mark great days, others signify days you wished had never happened. This upcoming week marks what would have been my thirty-first wedding anniversary. Contemplating all the life that has been packed into these last thirty-one years, I have come to believe the day is not all bad. While it will certainly hold sadness for me as I am denied the chance to celebrate it with my deceased husband, there are many precious memories surrounding the date that I will always cherish.

As Tuesday approaches, mixed emotions begin to churn and whirl in my mind. I no longer dread the day quite as much as I used to when my grief was fresh. It is now possible to sift out the pleasant memories of our years together and enjoy the happy moments without quite as much influence from the more recent, sadder events of the past four years following his death.

How can you handle anniversaries that are still painful? What can be done to help you through a difficult day full of sometimes bittersweet and whirling emotions? One helpful tip is to realize that often times, the dreading and anticipation of the day is usually the worse part. The pain you actually feel on the anniversary day is often times less than what you expect.

Think back to when you were younger. Was there something you feared and wished to avoid as a child? Perhaps it was a shot at the doctor’s office. Maybe it was sitting through that exam at school or reading out loud in class. Not looking forward to certain events is normal. As humans, death and grief often top the list of dreaded occasions.

Yet, when the anniversaries come and go following your loss, they seem to get a bit easier to handle with each passing year. It is not that they become less important to you. You do not forget their significance in any way. The day is just as treasured and special as before. However, you find that as much as you dreaded the day’s arrival, waking that morning is not a painful as you thought it might be. Pleasant memories mix with your sadness and you find you are able to smile and enjoy some of the memories that have always made that day special.

Another tip that you may find helpful is to plan ahead to treat yourself and do something pleasant on those anniversaries. Making provision to not be alone is wise, especially if your loss is very recent. Allowing others to share your company is a distraction that can serve you and bless them.

What is it you can do to turn your dreaded days into cherished ones? Your anniversaries do not have to be unpleasant. While they will certainly not be what they used to be, it is possible to turn sadness into joy.

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. “ Psalm 30:11 (NIV)

Until next time –



Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.

Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674

Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667

E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650

Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Looking Forward


The other day I was headed home from having my teeth cleaned at the dentist. The elevator opened and I hopped in, pushing the button to descend to the lobby. I was busy placing my phone off silent since I had it quieted for my appointment. The elevator stopped and the doors opened. I walked off as a gentleman entered. Only then did I look up and realized that we had stopped on the level before the lobby to pick up this passenger. I laughed, admitted my mistake and hopped back on. He was very gracious and shared that he had done the same thing before.

That incident got me thinking that we should always look where we are going. It is important to be looking forward. I never would have exited onto the 3rd floor if I had been watching. What if the doors had opened between floors, malfunctioning and I stepped into thin air and fell and…… Okay. So I am being melodramatic.

However, there is a point to be made. Where are we looking if we are not looking forward in the direction we are moving? Are we busy looking backward, concerned with where we have been? Is the past so wonderful that we cannot leave it behind to move forward into the great opportunities we face daily? How do we know the future will not be just as wonderful if we are not prepared and willing to see new things in front of us?

Perhaps your past is so painful that you fear it will catch up to you because of a mistake you made. Constantly glancing backward over your shoulder occurs out of anxiety. The dread you feel is not necessarily of the future, but of guilt that still has a grasp on you. Remember that if you possess a painful past, God can remove that. There is no shame in beginning new and fresh when you have sought forgiveness and freedom in Christ. Trust that you can try again without condemnation and go for it!

If your past holds memories that are bittersweet, you face the conflict of looking backward wishing for days gone by. Reliving your past joys can cause pain though. I fit into this category at times. I long for the life I had with my husband. While it was not perfect, it was ours. We enjoyed good times together and knew that when push came to shove – we had each other. Now those days are gone. When I find that I look back, I must be careful not to give up on the present and future that I know God has for me. The past is just that – past.

By looking forward and focusing on the opportunities presented us today, we can find joy. Moving our eyes and hearts to face forward, allows us to heal and learn to anticipate the good things still to come. As we move forward, we do not lose our old memories – we just learn how to incorporate them into our new lives ahead.

Until next time –