Anniversary Reaction


Psychological literature calls it the anniversary reaction and defines it as an individual’s response to unresolved grief resulting from significant losses. The anniversary reaction can involve several days or even weeks of anxiety, anger, nightmares, flashbacks, depression, or fear.

On a more positive note, the anniversary of a disaster or traumatic event also can provide an opportunity for emotional healing.


Life: is to be actively lived


Destiny rarely follows the pattern we would choose for it and the legacy of death often shapes our lives in ways we could not imagine. Death comes to everyone in their time – to some a parting, to some a release. We who are nearest fo with them up the long golden stairs – up  – up. A trumpet shrills – a gate clangs and we are left standing without. Then down the long stairs we retrace our steps to earth – an earth that is all numb and still – so still that one hears strange sounds –  catches strange vagrant notes on one’s heightened senses. But small hands are tugging and voices are insistent.

“Will he ever come back from that other place?”

“Oh no, he doesn’t want to come back!”

“Does he like it there?”

“Oh yes, he loves it”

“Well then that’s good.” And happy laughter rings through the tall green pines and along the rocks and sandy beaches by the sea.

No one grudges him his place in the sun.

Note: the author, widowed in 1927 packed her five children onto a 25-foot boat and cruised the coastal waters of Bristish Columbia, summer after summer.

Blanchet, M, Whylie. 1968. The Curve of Time. Gray’s Publishing, British Columbia, Canada p. 161-162.

Fallen (Sara McLaughlin)


Heaven bent to take my hand
And lead me from the firesad stone angel
Be the long awaited answer
To a long and painful fight

Truth be told I tried my best
But somewhere along the way
I got caught up in all there was to offer
And the cost was so much more than I could bear

Though I’ve tried, I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…

We all begin with good intent
Love was raw and young
We believed that we could change ourselves
The past could be undone
But we carry on our backs the burden time always reveals

The lonely light of morning
The wound that will not heal
It’s the bitter taste of losing everything that I have held so dear

I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…

Heaven bent to take my hand
Nowhere left to turn
I’m lost to those I thought were friends
To everyone I know
Oh they turn their heads embarassed
Pretend that they don’t see
But it’s one missed step
You’ll slip before you know it
And there doesn’t seem a way to be redeemed

Though I’ve tried, I’ve fallen…
I have sunk so low
I have messed up
Better I should know
So don’t come round here
And tell me I told you so…

Grief is like that


Are you ready maybe are you willing to run

Are you ready to let yourself drown

Are you holding your breath

Are you ready or not

Are you ready maybe do you long to confess

Do you feel that you’re already numb

Are you sure of yourself

Would you lie if you’re not

Maybe are you ready to break

Do you think  that  I push you too far

Would you open yourself

Are you reckless  or not

Cause only time can take you…so stop

–  Texas (Put your arms around me)


Pain: Physical and Emotional


 Classifications of Pain:


  • acute: sudden onset with a typical duration of less than 6 months, usually associated with injury


  • chronic: constant pain that persists more than 6 months, usually associate with a particular injury, cause or illness


  • cancer pain: often due to the compression of peripheral nerves or meninges. May also be due to cellular and tissue damage following surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or tumor growth.


Pain Description:


  • transient

  • burning

  • shooting

  • sharp

  • dull

  • aching


note: Pain is classified by mode of origin and transmission


Nociceptive pain: is due to the stimulation of nerve fibers that transmit signals

in a normal way from nerve endings to brain centers.


Somatic pain: pain originating from muscle, soft tissue or bone. It is usually

well localized and described as deep, aching, or boring. It may be worse with

movement. Some examples are bone metastases, osteoarthritis, and

muscle/tissue damage.


Visceral pain: pain originating from internal organs or viscera surrounding

them. It is usually less well localized and can be referred. Often described as

deep aching, cramping, or squeezing. Some examples are bowel obstruction,

brain tumour, and appendicitis.


Neuropathic pain: is the abnormal sustained stimulation of the nerve fibers that

transmit signals from the nerve ending to brain center and/or from a dysfunction

in the central nervous system.


  • dysesthetic pain: described as burning, electrical sensations or pins and needles and/or lancinating pain, described as stabbing, shooting, or hot poker


examples of neuropathic pain: pain

  • post-herpetic neuralgia

  • spinal cord compression

  • diabetic neuropathy

  • plexopathies

  • phantom limb

  • central pain from a stroke


Emotional pain: the essence of this pain is the feeling of brokenness or shattered self. When perceived this pain is often avoided or hidden beneath self protective strategies. Unlike physical pain, that can be alleviated with pain medications, emotional pain must be first approached (acknowledged, validated) by the individual. Secondly, it must be reprocessed and assimilated into the individuals cognitive structures and view of self. This process allows for emotional awareness, a means to address the emotional arousal and finally regulation of the emotional pain itself.


Bolger, Elizabeth and Greenberg, Leslie G. 2001. An Emotion-Focused Approach to the Overregulation of Emotion and Emotional Pain. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 57 (2) 197-211.


Weber, Janet, R. 2008. Nurses Handbook of Health Assessment. 6thed. Missouri: Wolters Kluwer.

Experience of loss, death and grief



Kubler-Ross’s Stages of Death and Dyinghands-bw-cuped


  • Denial: individual acts as though nothing has happened and may refuse to believe or understand that loss has occurred


  • Anger: individual resists loss and may strike out at everyone and everything around them


  • Bargaining: iindividual postpones awareness of the reality of the loss and may try to deal in a subtle or overt way as though the loss can be prevented.


  • Depression: occurs as the individual realizes the full impact and significance of the loss during this stage. Individual may feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness and withdraw from interpersonal interaction


  • Acceptance: individual accepts loss and begins to look to the future.






Perry, A, G, Potter, P, A, Ross-Kerr, J, C and Wood, M, J. (2006). Canadian fundamentals of nursing (3rded.). Toronto: Elselvier.


Note: there is no correct order through which stages are progressed, some stages may be skipped, others returned to, some may be progressed through very quickly while others may take a great deal more time to work through (typical shown)

The Grieving process



The four tasks for living and dying

William Worden has described ‘the four tasks of mourning’ facing a bereaved person:

1. To accept the reality of the loss.

2. To experience the pain of grief.

3. To adjust to the new situation (life without the deceased).

4. To withdraw emotional energy from the loss and to put it into a new relationship or situation.