RESILIENCE: Plan Your Year – 7 Self-Care Strategies to Survive Your Emotional Trigger Events in 2021

2021 Trigger Event Calendar for Loss of a Loved One

7 Self-Care Strategies To Survive Your Emotional Trigger Events in 2021

Your anniversary is tomorrow but your spouse has been gone six months now. Your child’s birthday is next month and you are still grieving their loss. Anniversaries, birthdays, holidays and more, are calendar events that can trigger emotional and spiritual distress when your loved one is no longer with you. These normal celebratory events connected with family and friends make special memories from one year to the next.


Things are different now

You have lost a presence by your side. You feel lost and alone. You may think nobody cares. You want to retreat into a dark space and hide until these events pass. Denial and retreat from life results in delaying the healing process which you so desperately need. I had to face these calendar of event  triggers after the loss of my husband and struggled through the process. I also learned a few ways to survive and make them less stressful. You too can survive these types of events that bring up memories of what used to be.


Preparation is Essential:

  • Purchase a calendar that extends forward for a least one year from the loss of your loved one.
  • Identify all the potential dates that are related to his/her loss: birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, date of death and more. This provides the foundation for developing self-care intervention strategies to support you through these emotionally charged times.

You can also engage the help of a friend or relative that you have a good relationship with to help you create your calendar of event triggers. If you choose this option, you will have another person who “has your back” and can support you in some way when these event triggers occur.


Now identify self-care strategies that will support you through these events

  1. Celebrate his/her birthday in tribute to the memory of the person.
  2. Leave a chair empty at the Thanksgiving dinner and ask each person to share how they were thankful for them.
  3. For Christmas, plan ahead and ask each person to write down a special memory to share.
  4. Sometimes, if the pain is too new and you need to withdraw from others, just let the day pass quietly. You can take a walk, watch a movie or stay in bed until it’s over.      
  5. On the anniversary of the death, consider a visit to the gravesite, have a memorial celebration, or visit the site at which the ashes were spread.
  6. Let someone else host the usual family dinner for Thanksgiving or Christmas or July 4th.
  7. Make a date with a friend and just play it by ear — enjoying each other’s company.


Cheryl Barrett and her friend, Anne (left) who was a support through trigger events.


Don’t forget to plan a new event for yourself — and maybe a friend and create new memories

You are in the midst of learning a new way of being, one that is different than what you had planned. Be brave, have faith and be kind to yourself!

Calendar Link (free):





My New Year’s Wish for YOU

May you find PEACE in your heart – remembering it’s more than a pump

And feel compassion for YOURSELF and others.

May you experience JOY every day.

It gives you something to live for and gladdens the heart.

May you continue to share your CARING with others,

And let others COMFORT you when you are feeling down, sad, or alone.

May you hang on during tough times – sometimes that’s all you can do.

But remember to let HOPE float up and do its magic healing.

May you remember to BREATHE when faced with fear, stress or loss.

It relaxes the body and refocuses the mind.

May you make time for YOURSELF each and every day.

Practicing self-care and becoming your best.

May you recognize you are worthy and loved by GOD and others,

So you can share this LOVE with others too.

May you LIVE every day as if it were your last,

So you have no regrets.

May you have the courage to be AWESOME,

And hold tightly to the wonderful person you are.

Thank you from my HEART



Cheryl A. Barrett, RN, MSN, NC-BC, is a retired nurse with 30-plus years in a variety of settings: clinical bedside in ICU, staff educator, academic instructor both didactic and clinical, supervisor, home care education, editorial director of a nursing magazine and is a board certified integrative nurse coach.





In 2018 she published Good Grief: Strategies for Building Resilience and Supporting Transformation, inspired by the death of her husband. She won the American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year, 2018 in the category of Palliative Care and Hospice for her book. She is currently creating a companion workbook for those experiencing grief and loss.




The views, thoughts and opinions expressed by our writers belong solely to them
and do not represent, its publisher or its staff.

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