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Anniversary Syndrome


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I am coming up on the one year anniversary of losing my dad to cancer -- April 18th. A friend of mine told me a couple of weeks ago to take care of any important decision-making ahead of time and basically don't plan on doing much of anything constructive for about 2-3 weeks after the anniversary date.....she said that there is a well-known "anniversary syndrome" around the loss of a loved one. She didn't find out about it until it hit her after the loss of her son and people told her about it.

She says it's got a physiological basis -- something about a cellular memory kicks in: she found herself not able to make decisions well and just doing strange things at work (making lots of simple mistakes she would normally never do); her awareness was affected as well -- she found herself having to be extra careful driving too.

Anyone heard of this syndrome as a documented thing? She says it is known to repeat in ongoing years as well for some period of time. Anyone noticed similar things happening to them at anniversary time?

While I know I am not anywhere near finished the grieving process with my dad, I just wasn't expecting something like what my friend is describing. Not sure what this will be like for my mom either in the middle of her struggles with her own lc or what to expect I might need to do to support her through this as well.

Thanks in advance for your wisdom,


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I've never read anything about this but I know from my own experience that it's very real.

My parents and brother are all deceased and have been for many, many years but on the aniversary of each of their passing I find myself in a very strange mood. After all this time I'm not in the dumps exactly but usually pensive and just not "myself".

When I check the calendar it's always an aniversary date. This surprises me every year as I am long past the grieving process, it's more of a quiet reflection and enjoyment of my time with them.

Take care


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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, I am familiar with the term anniversary reaction. I lost my mother in June. It hasn't even been a year and I've thought about her every day. The feeling of loss is intense. This time of year is hard b/c it is when she became ill or at least became symptomatic. Now I rethink, and "re-feel" everything that began to happen for her around this time last year. The tests leading up to the diagnosis, etc.

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Thought I'd post an update on this since my "anniversary day" with my dad is now gone by. I didn't notice anything of feelings coming up or reliving my experiences with him. I am a little concerned about that in a way -- I think things are staying locked inside me because of all of the intense pressure with what's currently going on with mom and everything I have to take care of.

I haven't had a chance to grieve yet. I haven't even had the free moments to visit his gravesite since the day we buried him -- there are too many "demands of the living" to do that, and by most evenings, I just collapse from weariness, rest up, to do it all again the next day.

Mom didn't even acknowledge this event. Understandable, perhaps, but she exhibits an almost desperation to avoid her own situation as well -- worse yet when so much really needs to be addressed. I know she didn't want to know up front about potential side-effects, but she doesn't even want to discuss what side-effects she has now to be informed so she can make some decisions in her tx course -- she really needs much more help than just leaning on me alone, yet that's what she does and I'm "a downer"; all she'll say is why can't I be more encouraging. I can't -- she fights me with everything she needs to do to just get out of her current symptoms -- it's like dealing with a stubborn child who won't do it just to spite you. Unfortunately she risks staying sick longer from her current infection doing that kind of thing.

Our discussions have no substance to them, because she will adamantly rebuke any meaningful discussion; I am frozen in time, probably doing more grieving for the living than those who have passed at the moment.


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Understandable how you are feeling...probably numb like I was and still am. I would like to exchange more posts later today if you are online. My mom did not want treatment. She had a couple of procedures which I think she just did for us. It was only 7 wks from dx until she left us for a better world. She was dx with nsclc and by the time of dx it had already metastized to her liver. Can post more later.

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