Coping with milestones

Hello everyone,

Richard, who blogs for Sue Ryder, has written a new post about coping with the first anniversary of his wife’s death. I’ve shared Richard’s blogs before in this community and I think this one will resonate with many of you.

"For this past year, I have been travelling through a landscape littered with milestones. They all bear the number ‘one’, and they all count in years rather than miles. They mark things like birthdays, anniversaries and other significant dates.

This past week, I have passed the milestone that marks the first anniversary of losing my wife and best friend. Today, I pass a similar one that marks the first anniversary of her funeral."

You can find Richard’s blog here.

Richard talks about how he has tried accelerating past milestones, looking the other way and “telling myself that a date is just a date – but I am fooling no one, including myself.”

How do you cope with milestones?

Hello Eleanor. I cope very logically with special dates. For my husband’s birthday I bought him a card and placed it by his photo. Did I miss him more than the day before? No, how could I miss him more? Would I miss him more than tomorrow? Of course not, it’s impossible. I miss him every single day with an aching heart. On our wedding anniversary I placed our cards to each other once again next to his photo. On the anniversary of his passing I went to work as normal. I can cry anytime, I didn’t need an anniversary for that. However, I do appreciate that we all react differently and I would never say that my way is the right way - it’s whatever we feel is right for us. But beware of the New year - that one hit me like a sledgehammer - I was totally unprepared for it. I didn’t want to move forward into another year and leave my husband behind. He was alive in 2017, he was a part of that year. He would have no part in 2018 and that bothered me, oh how it bothered me. Even if I had been ready for it I think I would still have struggled with that particular time of year. Xx


Hi Kate I thought I was the only one doing the card thing, although I don’t display it I do write one and whilst there is some comfort it’s a double edged thing it’s almost as if I’m afraid not to as if it would be disingenuous not to …if that’s the right word… Xmas is coming and now the reality of that is hitting home it’s a relentless round of celebrations and memorable moments thought the year and it never gets easier, thank you for your post…David

Hello David. I’m glad you do the card thing too. In fact it amazes me how so many of us do and think in ways that are the same or similar. Perhaps I haven’t gone barmy after all. Yes, Christmas is looming and I’m looking forward to going away. Me and my husband had been going away for Christmas for the past few years and so I will continue to do just that - to the same place - nowhere exotic, just North Wales. My son is coming with me along with our 2 dogs.

I shall not be sending cards as they no longer have the same meaning for me and I find it so difficult just writing my name only on them. If people don’t understand then that’s their problem. I find that I have become very intolerant since losing my husband, thinking in the scale of things does it really matter…

Incidentally, my husband’s name is David too.


Today it’s six years since my elder son died, suddenly. The pain of loss never eases.

I’ve just been to my first family funeral since my wife died 102 days ago. I didn’t see it as being that big a challenge beforehand. My aunt celebrated her 98 th birthday a d died 7 days later. She had frequently said that she was ready to go and that she was just existing. The service was uplifting and was a wonderful tribute to a remarkable woman. Food and drink was served in the church hall and a large number of family photos were laid out on tables for our perusal. Amongst them were family photos of Christmases long gone and there was this handsome youth with his new girlfriend, and she was wearing a piece of jewellery he had bought her for Christmas. We appeared in many other photos that I had never seen before. My composure just went and the tears came. I just stood looking at the wall. And I thought I was doing so well.


Hi meggi56 I lost my beautiful son in march 2017, I miss him so much. He just collapsed and died. He was I am alone, I don’t want to be here, I wish I could die and just be with him! My heart is completely broken, life means nothing to me now!

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I’ve been thinking about milestones today as I “wandered lonely as a cloud” around Derwentwater. I’m not sure I attribute much significance to dates on the calendar. I’m much more likely to see milestones as being things that were relevant to our life together. I’ve actually reached several milestones this weekend and I probably saw each of them as challenging. I’ve visited places that were very special to us both.
We didn’t really celebrate birthdays in any significant day. Special days could have been on any day of the year, and weren’t always planned. The memories have been quite overwhelming this weekend and maybe, in time, I will remember today as a special day.
Two more milestones this month. Firstly I’m going to my first ever nativity play to watch two of my grandsons. I’m not sure I was ever asked previously but probably was too busy working.
Secondly I’m going to the pantomime with my entire flock of kids and grandkids. I think I went to one when my own kids were young. I hope they will both be enjoyable milestones but could both be a bit emotional as I’m taking Granny’s place.

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Today is the first anniversary of my father going to hospital. The last day I was able to speak to him, and him to me. I’m trying to distract myself with work. But I feel I’m living the day again, as if I can pinpoint what went wrong, what I did wrong at each stage… Can I relive it and get it right. What I should have said to him and done…

Write it down W8st. Write your dad a letter and say exactly what you want to say but I’m sure your dad knew anyway. I always feel better after writing things down. Sending love xx

Today I face my first birthday without my beloved younger sister. Because it falls on Valentine’s Day, reminders are everywhere, so I cannot even pretend it is “just another day.” My sister always brought joy to my birthday with her unique special touch. Last year was a particularly significant birthday, because despite the cancer, she looked and felt well. She was my best birthday gift, I could not have asked for more. This year I am alone, and my heart is broken. I have the last birthday card she gave me in a Shadow Box I put together in her memory. Every “milestone” just brings more pain.

I’m so sorry sister2. I can’t say much to help, it’s to hard. I think time helps us to cope, dulls the pain.

Thank you W8st, Every response helps in it’s own way. Sorry about your Dad as well. The reminders/milestones just keep coming. Like a wound that keeps being re-opened. Take care. Sister2

52nd wedding anniversary on Wednesday 20 Feb.

I nipped into a quiet Waitrose in Salisbury last night for a couple of things, and found myself looking at the greetings etc. cards.
I’ve mentioned elsewhere that Eileen and I preferred to buy blank cards so that we could do our own rhymes, but I hadn’t intended to buy one this time. However, one just fitted my bill so perfectly: it consists of a message on the front, but still blank inside. I tried to photo it and put it up as my profile photo so you could see it too, but I got the “too big” message.
Anyway, I think you’ll see what I mean and why I had to buy it.
The front says,
“ You Are
My Best Friend, You Are My Soul Mate, You Are Beautiful, You Are the Love of My Life, You Are My Forever, You Are the Sun, the Moon, and All My Stars, You Are . . .

I absolutely love it Edwin. How could you possibly have left it there? I put cards up last year on both our birthdays and our wedding anniversary. Luckily I had kept cards from David so put those up too. 52 years is incredible, a lifetime. We managed our silver just before he passed. X

Edwin, this is so beautiful. I agree, how could you leave it there.

Although I haven’t started the journal yet that Kate suggested, I’m sure I will eventually, I did buy a blank ‘thank you’ card for my husband. I wrote in it and put it by his side in his coffin. I had a massive urge to say thank you for being such an amazing husband, friend and soulmate. Although ‘thank you’ was said many times throughout our life together, I felt I hadn’t thanked him enough, and I didn’t get the opportunity at the end.

I love your card, Edwin…

Oh, I bought it. Didn’t leave it there - did I infer that I did ?

I have to think what to write in there now.

No no, you didn’t infer that you’d left it there Edwin. What I was saying was - how could you have left it there? It was impossible. You simply had to buy it… Ambiguity…

Got it

I meant that too! x