Trauma Anniversaries


Hi, everybody. I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question.

“In the coming weeks, I will face the first anniversary of a very traumatic event in my life. I have heard you talk about the pain of trauma anniversaries. Can you speak to the best way to navigate those events?”

First of all, I’m very sorry about your trauma. Trauma anniversaries are very difficult, and they tend to be difficult for a long time. The deeper and more profound the trauma, the more difficult the trauma anniversary tends to be. Here are a couple of things that you can do with trauma anniversaries. The first thing is understand that they’re normal. The feelings that you have are normal, the sadness that you feel, the angst that you feel, the guilt that you feel, whatever it is that you feel on that anniversary is normal. It’s a little bit like a thunderstorm. Thunderstorms have various degrees of severity. Just know that it will pass, but it’s going to feel uncomfortable.

The second thing that I want you to know is don’t anticipate it. Just know in the back of your head it’s coming, you’ll know it’s coming, and you’re likely to feel it, and that’s okay. Don’t do a lot of build-up for it. Don’t ruminate about it. Sometimes I have clients or friends who will do a ritual on the trauma, if it was a trauma, as it related to a death of someone or an illness or a loss or an experience that you had. Sometimes I have clients who will do rituals to honor whatever happened or to be still and reverent of it. Recently, I had somebody go to the ocean and say a prayer and write a letter and throw the letter in the sea. Sometimes rituals help with trauma anniversaries.

Sometimes doing something for others who have been in similar traumas will help you on a trauma anniversary. Know that it’s normal to feel that discomfort. Don’t make any big decisions or anything like that during that time. You can do things for others who have been in that situation. You can do a ritual, that often helps with that, and know that it will pass and be temporary. Hope that’s helpful. Blessings to you during this difficult time. I know how difficult that can be.

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