Q: My boyfriend died unexpectedly from a heart attack at age 29. Both his birthday and the first anniversary of his death are coming up. Is it heartless of me to not want to get into the pattern of commemorating these dates? The pain of his loss is very deep and pretty fresh and I just can't imagine wanting to rehash it every year into perpetuity.
Carolyn: If anything, judging you for not grieving the "right" way would be heartless.
People show love and respect in about as many ways as there are people. On one extreme are those who feel they owe it to the deceased to live their lives fully in the present, instead of dwelling in their shared past, and at the other extreme are those who dedicate their lives to preserving whatever they possibly can of that past. Whether you choose one of these or any point in between, you needn't explain yourself to me.
What a shocking loss that must have been, I'm sorry. Do what you need, and honor his memory as you think best.
Anonymous 2: I am so very sorry. I will add one thing: Don't be afraid to let your feelings change over time. Should you find yourself a decade down the road and suddenly the idea of letting either date go by without noting them somehow strikes you as not what you want to do, go with it.
If your approach doesn't change with time, then it doesn't. And that's okay, too.
Carolyn: Important angle, thanks — there needn't be a "pattern" at all.