Tuesdays with Ana on creating memories: How to handle anniversaries of difficult events

I’m away for (at least part of) this week, creating memories. I’m writing this post on Sunday evening, surrounded by dishwashing, laundry, half-packed suitcases, piles everywhere, and a private little grocery store. Every time I go on a trip, I swear I’ll leave my home in pristine condition so I can return to a nice house. Every time I actually go on a trip, I’m lucky to get everything together!

I posted this on my Facebook:

I will be offline for most of today, all of tomorrow [today, Tuesday, by the time you read this post], and possibly parts of Wednesday and Thursday. I’m not comfortable sharing details, but tomorrow is the anniversary of something that happened many years ago. In the past I’ve quietly gone off the grid or kept things superficial around this time, but by now there are too many connections and friendships here to just disappear.

I believe I have taken care of all the responsibilities for while I will be MIA. If I owe you something, please forgive me and email/message me on Wednesday.

If you would like to send a smile my way, please feel free to post a photo of cute babies/children/kittens/wooden spoons in the comments. Or your favorite joke.

I’ve scheduled a blog post to go up tomorrow as well.

Hugs and from your favorite Cookie Lady. (It’s not you, baby. It’s me.)


Instead of oversharing (who wants to hear about the Ana pity party, anyway?), I’d like to talk a bit about anniversaries and how to handle them. There are two times in the year that are difficult for me (astute, long-time readers of Governing Ana can probably guess which ones). I’m not alone. Most people, except for the extraordinarily lucky and sheltered, have at least one anniversary of something painful. The death of a loved one, the loss of a loved one (including a child who never got to be born), a break-up, an assault, an accident, an act of terrorism…

As a society, we suck at dealing with grief. We spend a great deal of money and time on everything but facing the difficult parts of being human. Spoiler alert: Life is difficult.

Instead of sitting at home and feeling sorry for myself today, I’ve put aside work and will immerse myself in new experiences. I’ve never been to a wine-tasting before (don’t drink much) or a chocolate factory tour, but I’ve scheduled both. 😀 Plus there will be a visit to a museum, dinner at a cafe, and an evening at the theater. I am grateful, immensely grateful, for life and professional circumstances that have made this possible.

Sometimes we need quiet moments to grieve and reflect in our own way and in our own time. Other times, it’s good to keep moving. The problem comes when we work ourselves to exhaustion and find ourselves run down at the very moment we need all of our emotional resources.

This year and this week, I’ve done both. 🙂 So it’s time to take a break.

I’ve (sort of) packed my bags (messily) and have planned (what I hope will be) a lovely day. Sometimes, I think we need to create new memories. We can’t replace old, painful ones, but we can add something to the mix. And in future years, I’ll be able to look back on this day. A few years ago, a dear friend and her husband created a wonderful day for me on this anniversary. They allowed me to take time out when I needed it, but they also took me on a day filled with tender, thoughtful surprises. Other friends have surprised me, two years in a row with a party. I cried each time, but I gave thanks for the best friends anyone could ever have. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less open to new experiences and more likely to shut myself into solitude. I’d like to change that today.

Grief isolates by its very nature. No one can know what it means to experience someone else’s pain, but human nature means trying to understand. Trying to connect, to make meaning, and to love.

When the tears come today, as they surely will, I will give thanks for the love, support, and thoughts of my wonderful online family.

Thank you.

With all of my love–



12 thoughts on “Tuesdays with Ana on creating memories: How to handle anniversaries of difficult events

  1. awesomesub says:

    Ana, I feel for you and I am sorry that you have to cope with this grief. The way we grieve often differs so much, depending on the circumstances. Sometimes, when the memories come back, changing them into something positive, works. At other times everything is just too overwhelming. I am sorry that you feel so run down but I am glad because you can have this needed break.
    More than anything, I hope so much that you have found a good way of coping with your grief. What your friends did, must have been awesome and it is great that you have them.

    Grief creates isolation, definitely, but it seems like you have found a way out, too. –>Anything connected to chocolate sounds like a great start for me. The wine tasting sounds exciting, but even without drinking, just from tasting, be careful, or you’ll end up tipsy. Sending lots of positive energy and big…



    This is to cheer you up, Cookie Lady!

    Last year, a guy went to a doctor because he was losing weight.
    He found out he had a tapeworm, and was instructed by the doctor to bring a muffin, a Twinkie and a cookie with him on his next visit.
    When he was being examined the doctor shoved the muffin, the Twinkie, and finally the cookie up the guy’s ass. The patient protested, but the doctor calmed him down, saying it was part of the therapy.
    This treatment continued for several weeks and every time the doctor shoved a muffin, a Twinkie and a cookie up his ass.
    Finally, after many visits, the Doctor instructed the patient to bring a muffin, a Twinkie and a mallet for the next visit.
    The day arrived and this time the doctor shoved only the muffin and the Twinkie up the patient’s ass.
    After a few minutes the tapeworm appeared out of his asshole and demanded, “Where’s my cookie!?”

    The children were lined up in the cafeteria of a Catholic elementary school for lunch. At the head of the table was a large pile of apples. The nun made a note, and posted on the apple tray: “Take only ONE. God is watching.”
    Moving further along the lunch line, at the other end of the table was a large pile of chocolate chip cookies. A child had written a note, “Take all you want. God is watching the apples.”


  2. Leigh Smith says:

    Wonderful heartwarming post. While it’s good to remember, it’s also good to remember life is for the living and the best gift you can offer to those who have passed is to enjoy your life -remember but don’t wallow.

    It sounds as if you have a better handle on it now. May you enjoy your new experiences and we’ll see you again soon.


  3. Julie says:

    You might remember that the day we consider our anniversary is also the anniversary of a very difficult event, and we not only celebrate our anniversary every year but also very directly remind ourselves of that event.

    I do think it’s helped us not to run and hide from it, or try to pretend it didn’t happen, but in a way embrace it. It’s not a “smile because it happened” situation, of course, but recognizing it as part of what has brought us to where we are and not letting it be that thing we keep hidden away in the metaphorical closet has been *mostly* 🙂 positive.

    We’ll be thinking of you, Ana. In my experience chocolate and wine can do nothing but help!


  4. Katie says:

    BIG HUGS sent your way, Ana! 🙂 I am thinking of you. I am also- I guess the word might be proud of you for trying to take this time and looking at it as a glass half full kind of thing. Sometimes life is just so hard, and we have to give it our best shot to see beauty and love through the tough stuff. That is what you are doing and I hope that you have a wonderful day full of yummy chocolate and fine wine! Here is a little something to make you laugh. Oh it is just the cutest thing ever!! Enjoy:

    Loss is hard, no matter how you look at it. One has to feel it and move through it and at the same time, remember that it should never let us stop loving or stop living our best life. That is what you have chosen to do. Good for you I say! Many hugs and enjoy the link. Bet you can’t watch it just once!

    ❤ Katie


  5. Renee says:

    Ana, I have been thinking about you today. I am sorry for the sadness associated with this day for you. I do have to say that your post is heartwarming and very wise. Grief is a many stepped and long process. It will always be a part of us. Many hugs on this day. I will state for the record that wine tasting is awesome fun. I tend to visit wineries where ever I travel to taste. And anything with chocolate has got to be the tops. Hope your enjoy your new experiences.


  6. abby says:

    What a wonderful post to share with us….thank you. It is hard to work through grief, and to think of the happier times. Creating new memories is a great way to help…..Thinking of you, and sending you lots of love and serenity…
    hugs abby


  7. Minelle says:

    You know I always hope to make a persons sadness easier. That isn’t always possible! I truly hope that the happiness and joy you create and embrace this day will continue!
    I agree that you are brave, wise and emotionally intuitive to make this day one for YOU!


  8. catrouble says:

    Hey sweet Ana…this is a lovely post. Hope you enjoy all your experiences today and that they help make the memories of this day easier to bear. Sending lots of prayers and positive energy your way.

    Hugs and Blessings…


  9. pao says:

    *hug* I hope you’ve had a wonderful day doing all these new things 🙂 Just like what you wrote, go make new memories. It won’t wipe out difficult anniversaries, but it will buffer the pain slightly. And go easy on the alcohol and chocolate! Don’t want a cookie lady going on a wooden spoon rampage!


  10. Roz Harrison says:

    Sweet Ana, thank you for sharing this heartwarming post. I am so sorry it is such a difficult day for you and am thinking of you. What a great message. I so hope you have a great day enjoying new experiences and making new memories.



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