One year today.
Before I was a grieving person I didn’t understand the experience of a “traumaversary”. I figured on days that marked a loss, the grieving person was sad and remembering it more because of what day it was.
I didn’t realize it’s more than sadness. I didn’t understand there’s really no such thing as “remembering it”, because you never forget. It’s not a thought you have. It’s a constant reality. It’s a gaping hole woven into the fabric of your being. It’s part of who you are now.
I didn’t know when a traumaversary comes around, especially the first one, both the brain and body are reliving the initial loss. In a lot of ways the body thinks it’s happening all over again.
I didn’t understand a traumaversary isn’t just a day, but it’s the days and weeks and even months leading up to it. I had no clue a grieving person’s body feels on edge, waiting for the unthinkable. I didn’t know its like reliving the past while getting a window into the hellish future. I was unaware it feels like knowing what will happen on that day but being powerless to stop it. I had no idea a traumaversary isn’t just a day.
I didn’t realize a traumaversary isn’t just a day, or the days before it – it’s the days and weeks and even months following after it too. I had no clue following a traumaversary a grieving person’s body relives those early days of grief, struggling to survive the unsurvivable. I didn’t know a grieving person’s mind goes through the cycles again of trying to reorient itself to its new damned existence. I was unaware it feels like reliving the past while knowing experientially just how utterly devastating the future is.
Now I know that at the one year mark there is a jarring realization that you can no longer say “this time last year” when referring to special moments with your person. It’s the traumatic reality that linear time is dragging you further and further away from their touch, their voice, their smell. A traumaversary isn’t just a testament to what happened in the past – it’s proof the world keeps moving after your world ended. It’s tangible evidence you are still here and they are not. It’s the sometimes paralyzing fear that your memories will fade. It’s the terror of recognizing that shared moments with your person are taking up a smaller and smaller piece of the pie of your life. Its the suffocating epiphany that the percentage of your life spent with your person is shrinking with each passing millisecond. It’s wondering what new memories would have been made by now if things had been different, what they would be doing now, who they would be.
I’m finding now that a traumaversary isn’t grieving only the initial loss. It’s grieving a month, or six months, a year or many years worth of missed memories, empty holidays, unfulfilled dreams, lonely adventures, reaching for shared goals alone.
I’ve learned now that you should be gentle with yourself on traumaversaries, whether it marks a loss or abuse or some other terrifying event. Be gentle with yourself because your nervous system is terrified. Be gentle with yourself because your body is reliving something it didn’t think it could live through. Be gentle with yourself because a traumaversary isn’t just a day.