Grief Anniversaries


Nancy & I

This week is always just a little harder. Grief is funny like that – not haha funny but interesting funny. As time moves on, the feelings of grief are far fewer and replaced with memories that bring smiles and phone calls to my sister to reminisce. But every year as January 27th arrives and the reminder on my calendar that I refuse to delete says “Nancy’s Birthday”, a wave of grief washes over. And just a week later comes February 1st – the anniversary of her death. This time, 10 years will have gone by.

A lot happens in ten years. And yet, none of it has happened for her.

This year especially I grieve for the way this terrible cancer took her life all too young and all she has missed in these 10 years. Her then 8-year-old daughter is now a young woman getting ready to graduate high school. She would be so proud of who she has become. I cannot begin to imagine how this grief affects her daughter. How much does she remember about her mom? How often do situations arise where she wishes her mom were there with her?

I don’t have answers to any of my thoughts or questions, but every year I use them to help me process the feelings that inevitably come up this week like clockwork. Grief looks different 10 years later. I’m not sobbing in the car on my way to work. I’m feeling disinterested in my usual interests, introspective, and sad. Acknowledging that what I am feeling is driven by grief gives me permission to go easy on myself this week. The week will pass, and things will go back to normal, but for now, it’s ok to be feeling this way.


If you are dealing with grief, visit OncoLink for resources to help you.


Carolyn Vachani is an oncology advanced practice nurse and the Managing Editor at OncoLink. She has worked in many areas of oncology including BMT, clinical research, radiation therapy, and staff development. She serves as the project leader in the development and maintenance of the OncoLife Survivorship Care Plan and has a strong interest in oncology survivorship care. She enjoys discussing just about any cancer topic, as well as gardening, cooking, and of course, her sons.

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