Grief- Coping with Reminders After a Loss

When a loved one passes away, you could experience sadness over and over – often even years later. Reminders frequently make the pain of loss worse. Knowing what to anticipate and how to handle reminders of your loss will give you a greater chance in moving forward with your healing.

Grief may resurface on the anniversary of your loved one’s passing or other significant occasions throughout the year. These emotions, also known as an anniversary reaction, can be painful but do not have to be a hindrance to your healing. Their presence reveals how you treasured your loved one and miss them.

Reminders can be Everywhere

Some reminders of your loved one could be unavoidable, such as recognizing the date of their passing, celebrating holidays, birthdays, or attending new activities you know they would have loved. Even commemorative events for other people can make you feel the agony of your own loss. Depending on your loss they can range from when someone has a baby or their oldest child graduates from college and moves out.
Reminders may also be connected to sights, sounds, and smells. And they may come as a surprise when you least expect it. You might pass a restaurant that your loved one enjoyed while driving. Or you turn on a playlist and hear their favorite song and suddenly you are unexpectedly overcome with emotions.

Common Reactions to Reminders

Grief has an unpredictable path. Reactions to anniversaries can bring back vivid memories of the emotions and circumstances surrounding the passing of a loved one. They can persist for days at a time or, in some situations, much longer. When you have an anniversary reaction, you could feel the same strong feelings and reactions you did the first time you lost a loved one, including:

  • Depression
  • Shock
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Tearful Outbursts
  • Guilt
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Fatigue

Tips to Working through Reactions to Reminders

You could still experience melancholy even years after a loss when you come across memories of your loved one’s passing. Take action to deal with reminders of your loss as you continue your healing.

  • Be prepared

  • Anniversary reactions are normal and even predictable. Knowing that the chances of experiencing it can help you prepare for your reaction to it and give you a better chance for healing.

  • Plan Ahead
  • Plan strategies that have helped you thus far for any upcoming expected reminders. Schedule a visit with friends or family during times that you might feel more alone or experience reminders.

  • Remember and feel
  • Remember the good things about your loved one and the time you had together, rather than only focusing on your loss. It is important to allow yourself to feel your emotions and know that it is okay to be sad. It is equally as important to allow yourself to feel other emotions like happiness and joy.

  • Commemorate
  • One example is to make a donation in your loved one’s memory, or plant a tree in their honor. Taking action and doing something tangible can be therapeutic and healing.

  • Prioritize Relationships
  • Focus on the connections you have with your friends and family. Draw close to them and find comfort in their presence and support. Perhaps consider joining a support group for grief. Make time for your faith and talking with God and listening to Him. This can be a challenge but the long term value of healthy relationships in your healing journey is crucial for you to live again.

    When to Seek Extra Support

    Grief has no time limit, and anniversary reactions might send you into a tailspin. Even so, grief usually gets less intense over time as you work through the pain of your loss.

    If grief doesn’t seem to be getting better over time, or if grief is making it difficult to carry on with daily activities, consider consulting a grief counselor. Unresolved grief can lead to depression, physical ailments, and various mental health concerns. However, with professional help, you can regain a sense of control and direction in your life and stay on the path to healing.

    If you are ready to begin the journey of overcoming your grief then we are here for you. At New Vision Counseling and Consulting we have a team of caring therapists who are highly trained in helping you work through grief and create a life you want to be a part of. The natural next step is to call us at (405) 921-7776. We hope to meet you soon!

Grief: Coping with the Loss of Your Loved One

The best way I can describe my experience with grief is feeling like I am stuck in a dark void of silence. On the inside, I can feel myself screaming, but no one can hear me. I have found that loss can be lonely even when you’re in a crowded room surrounded by others. You may get lost in your thoughts and lose track of time until you are reminded of the harsh truth that grief has invaded every fiber of your being. Grief can also upset our sense of time and reality. You may even find yourself ruminating on two aspects of time, before your loss and after. The before is filled with happiness, memories, and a sense of belonging. The after may feel like a lonely place that causes you to second-guess every aspect of your life. If you are struggling with your after, this message is for you.

Grieve in your own way

Everyone handles their grief differently and it is important that you deal with your feelings in your own way. There is no timeline or roadmap for how grief should affect you. It is normal to feel lost or even numb. The numbness scares many people because they fear that something is wrong with them or that their loss broke them. However, numbness after loss, though scary, is actually a common experience. It is your mind’s way of defending your body from the immeasurable pain you are dealing with. This is why it is important to take grief day by day. Do not force yourself to feel a certain way or condemn yourself for how you are choosing to deal with your grief. Others may not understand, but they don’t have to.

Reach out for support

When you lose a loved one, it is natural to feel like you need to deal with your feelings on your own. Though it is important to take time for yourself, don’t get stuck there. Isolating yourself from the world only makes your return to daily life more difficult. It is helpful to talk to others who have gone through loss because their experiences can bring you comfort. Many find solace in grief counseling or bereavement groups. There are different forms of bereavement groups and it is helpful to find one that pertains to your circumstances. Some specialized groups are for those mourning the loss of a spouse, child, or parent, to name a few. When you connect with others who share your pain, you find a whole new level of healing. Many know the agony of loss and can deeply relate to what you are going through. This gives you the freedom to simply be.

Find a routine

During times of loss, keeping a routine helps to recover some sense of stability in your life. You may not feel like doing anything, and that is okay, but eventually you can find healing. When that day comes, it is helpful to have an established plan to help you keep moving. One day, you will look back and realize that going through the motions of your routine is what saved you. When an immeasurable loss is experienced, it is common for people to experience depression. You may not feel like getting out of bed or even eating, but it is important to take care of yourself during these times. You may be asking yourself, “What’s the point?” And if so, you are not alone. Many struggle to pick up the pieces after loss, but it is possible.


Roll with the waves

As a person who has experienced grief, I can honestly tell you that it comes in waves. This is a common experience for those who are mourning the loss of a loved one. Some days it feels like the waves are crashing over you and you can’t catch your breath. Other days it feels like the tide is slowly ebbing and flowing and your pain subsides to a dull ache felt in the background of life. These are the days when grief seems manageable and you may even feel like you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t become discouraged when the high tide of pain returns. This is a normal process and your experiences will vary from day to day. It is important to acknowledge where you are and feel the pain. This gives the mind and body permission to heal at their own pace.

Next Steps

If you are struggling to find your new normal and need help navigating the loss of a loved one, we have a team of highly trained therapists who can guide you through your journey. Grief can be lonely, and it is easy to feel like others don’t understand, but we pride ourselves on being transparent and compassionate.We want you to know that you don’t have to face this alone. Whether you are interested in learning skills to cope with your pain, seeking help in processing your complex grief, or simply want to understand your feelings, we are here to help. We provide a comforting environment where you can feel free to express all of your feelings, even the ones that you are afraid or ashamed to acknowledge. If you are ready to learn how to navigate your grief with a personalized counseling experience then we are here for you. Our team of compassionate therapists will walk WITH you through this season and stay by your side through this difficult time. The next step is to invite us in by calling (405)-921-7776 learn more about how we can help.

How to Address Grief in Children

It is no secret that grief is one of the most challenging obstacles a person can face. It is completely normal that you would want to guard your child’s heart from the pain and heartbreak it brings. Even though your intentions are out of love, it can be harmful acting as if the event never happened or thinking that your child will be unaffected.

It is important to acknowledge that your child is a person like you or me. They experience emotions such as sadness, confusion, and denial. Validating these emotions is a healthy way to help your child cope with a life-changing event. A couple ways you can do this is by being honest with your child, being a safe place for them to ask questions, and helping them keep to normal routines.


Being honest with your child is an important step to their grieving process. There are moments where you might think telling a lie would protect them, but the truth will be revealed to them at some point. You want the truth of the situation to be given to them by someone that they love and trust. Depending on the age of your child, not all details need to be revealed at the time of the event. A common Rule of thumb: if they are asking the question, then they are old enough to know the answer. Also, don’t be afraid to express your emotions in front of your child. It validates to them that being sad or upset is okay and it gives them permission to grieve as well.

Open to Questions

Depending on the age of your child it is common that they will have questions concerning the situation. This might be difficult for you because in certain moments it will be hard for you to discuss what happened. However, you being a safe place for them can make a huge difference in their healing. Reassuring your child’s safety lets them know that they will be okay and so will the people they care about. Don’t be afraid to initiate conversation because your child might not know how to bring up the topic. On the other hand, don’t force a conversation that your child doesn’t want to have. And make an effort to approach these conversations and questions with empathy and age appropriate levels that are right for your unique child.

Stick to Routines

After experiencing a traumatic event, it can be easy to disregard the routines that were once a part of your daily life. This could be making your bed, going to the gym, or making dinner for your family. It can be difficult to do these things when every part of you is fighting against them. Keeping a routine during your grieving process can help your child feel a sense of normalcy and structure even when their lives feel in a million pieces. For example, making sure your child is still involved in their after school activities.

Most importantly, be kind and patient with yourself. Daily routines will not immediately fall back into place, but structure can bring a little more stability in the midst of heartbreak.


If you or your child is grieving, we would love to walk alongside you as you heal and start to understand a life without the person or thing you have lost. You can reach us at (405) 921-7776 or learn more click here to learn more about grief counseling. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

How to Support a Loved One Who is Grieving

When someone you love is grieving it can be heartbreaking to watch. We automatically want to do anything we can to make their pain more bearable. In these moments, sometimes what you do can be more meaningful than what you say. Many times we put pressure on ourselves to say the “right” things. We often do this because we feel uncomfortable and want their pain to stop. And as great as that sounds, we do not have the ability to do that. Instead, we can support them. We can do this by validating the pain they are in without judgment, just listen and DON’T correct them when they speak. We can empathize with their situation and be physically present to meet practical needs. People who are grieving are often hurting so much they become disoriented and may not know what they need. You can make clear suggestions and see if anything you suggest would be helpful for them.


Acknowledge that their pain is real and the feelings and thoughts they have around it. Remember, this is a time to love and support instead of confront and correct. If they are grieving a loved one, give them a safe place to share memories and express their feelings. Another way you can support them in their pain is by offering to help with a specific task. People who are grieving are often hurting so much they become disoriented and may not know what they need. And many people will try to be supportive by asking the person in pain: “Let me know if I can do anything for you.” Instead of using vague phases, try asking if you can assist them with a particular burden. That might be bringing them dinner, cleaning up around their house, or helping with funeral arrangements.

Active Listening

Active listening is a great way to show support to someone who is grieving. When someone we love is grieving, a common response is to try to make them feel better or “fix them.” Even though we do this out of love and kindness it can be hurtful, especiall with a death. Those who are hurting because they lost someone don’t need advice. Instead, they will often need you to sit and listen without interrupting or judging them.

Nonverbal communication is a big part of active listening. A couple ways you can show your support is by making eye contact, nodding your head, and being aware of your facial expressions. Refuse to say things like “OK”, “I understand” and any other one word answer that can feel like you are diminishing their pain. These are all simple gestures that can go a long way when it comes to supporting a loved one who has experienced a significant loss.


A big part of being empathetic is being honest and vulnerable with the person you are talking to. It is easy to get empathy and sympathy confused when you are supporting someone who is in pain. Empathy is the ability to share the feelings of another person and connect with parts of yourself that know that feeling. It is making an effort to place yourself in their shoes. Sympathy is showing feelings of pity or sorrow on someone or their circumstances. An example of sympathy would be giving a person flowers and a card after their mom has passed away. Empathy on the other hand would be taking the perspective of that person, staying out of judgment, and being able to recognize and emotionally validate their feelings.


Normalizing a person’s experience can bring them a great deal of comfort. When someone is encountering grief, they might be having thoughts and emotions that they never knew were possible. Validating these emotions can help bring acceptance to their grief experience. An example of this could be telling a person “I can see how after what happened you would feel that way.” Another instance could be saying something such as “It makes sense that you are angry with God after losing your brother in a car accident.” These statements show the individual that their thoughts are part of the grieving process and okay.

The bottom line is that everyone has a unique grief journey. Whether you are in Oklahoma City, Edmond or Japan it will be unique to that person. You have an opportunity to come alongside and be a student of what they need. This could be one of the hardest parts of their life and the love and support you give could make all the difference.

If you would like someone to help walk with you and guide you in your grief journey we are here. You do not have to walk this road alone. You can reach us at (405) 921-7776 or on the web at We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Written by Darby Hargrove and Shawn Maguire, LPC. Shawn owns New Vision Counseling and Consulting and has trained a team of therapists who help their clients achieve life changing results. Because of their success in helping clients heal and come alive they are currently the top rated and reviewed counseling practice in Oklahoma.