The One Year Anniversary
By Nancy Frumer Styron, J.D., Psy.D, Clinical Director
“I can’t believe it has been a year!” Everyone is marking time, recognizing that we have been living with COVID for a whole year. Marking time is also something that we do with our grief. How many months, the first birthday without, the first holiday without, the first year since the person died. This year, the entire world is paying attention to time and there are many articles being written about this anniversary. Time has gone by slowly and quickly at the same time. We note all that has happened in just one year and how many losses there have been. In our groups at The Children’s Room, we end with things that each person takes from the time. What will we take from this past year?
The Children’s Room is also marking time and recognizing that we have been doing things differently in some ways this past year and that there are some things that have not changed. This is what grief looks like too. We spent our time on zoom, we could not be together physically, and yet we have been with others, some of whom we have never met in person.
Everyone experienced this past year differently and we all went through it together. For those who had someone die during this year, the additional loss of rituals and routines made things more acute in some ways and for some allowed them to be with their grief differently than they expected. For many, there was more isolation, less ability to grieve with others, and even more questions about what it might have been like to go through this year if the person who died had been here too.
At the Children’s Room, we talk about learning to integrate the death into your life over time. Life will not be the same as it was. As it is with COVID, life will not be the same, but we don’t yet know what it will look like. Uncertainty is what we all live with. There are the little questions like going back to school, traveling, eating in a restaurant. Then there are the bigger parts of uncertainly like what life will look like without the person who died.
As we recognize this one-year anniversary, we take the memories from this past year, the good and the difficult, into the future. There may be things we have learned this year that we want to keep, that change the way we see things, and help us transform into something new. The Children’s Room has stayed true to its mission of bringing people together so that no one grieves alone. Even if coming together means in a little square box on a screen, we have made that happen. We have kept our routines of meeting regularly, of supporting our families, of providing a space where children, teens, and adults can come together to share their grief, to laugh and cry, and to commemorate all the special moments.
As we approach this one-year anniversary and as spring arrives in New England, the light is longer, the sun is a little warmer, the grief is no less painful, but it changes over time. We take this time to remember, what we have and what we no longer have. We keep our memories and create new ones.