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Katie Allison Granju is the married mother of five children, ranging in age from toddler to teenager. In addition to blogging for Babble Voices, she also publishes her own blog, Big Good Thing, and she works full time in digital media with a large cable network. When she isn't at work, blogging, or washing someone's socks, Katie enjoys working in her flower garden, riding her bike, and feeding the chickens she keeps in the backyard of her family's large and totally impractical, 113-year-old Victorian house.

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After Losing a Child: Will the Second Anniversary Hurt as Much?

By Katie Allison Granju |

Henry Granju case

Henry in Kathmandu


I find it hard to believe that the second anniversary of the start of Henry’s hospitalization (April 27) and death (May 31) are so close. Last year at this time I was really not doing very well. I was finding it pretty hard to function, actually.

In hindsight, I think that the 6-8 weeks leading up to the first anniversary of Henry’s death, and the weeks right afterward caused me the most intense, fundamental, indescribable, non-stop suffering I have ever felt in my life – so far, anyway.

Yes, the pain was even worse than right at the time of his death because during that period, I was in shock.  As I have mentioned before, I barely recall the day of Henry’s death, or the months right after. As in, it’s almost a total blank to me. But by the time of the first anniversary, the protective numbness and amnesia had worn off, and I had to face reality. Plus, by that point, no one was allowing me to lie in my room all day and cry. One year in, I was expected to behave like a normal person – getting up and going to work each day, being productive at work, caring for my other children, etc, etc. So the hurt last year was worse than in the beginning, and I had no protection or cushion from it.

Plus, despite multiple, loving warnings from other parents who have lost children, like my cousin Julie and my friend Heather, I truly did not understand or expect the monumental impact that facing that first anniversary would have. I just didn’t see how it could be any worse than how I had felt in the 12 months previous to that stretch right around the one year mark. But it absolutely was worse.  It was hellish, nightmarish, torturous pain that had me in its grip for about 2.5 months, and left me battered and shaken when it finally began to lift.

This year, I am bracing for it to get really bad again. So far, it’s been manageable, but I have felt little twinges of the really bad stuff. When I am forced to drive past the hospital where Henry spent all those weeks and then died in the spring of 2010  - with its brick  exterior bathed in the spring sunlight, with the dogwoods in bloom just like they were then – I physically wince in pain. It’s like someone has momentarily thrust an icepick into my temple. But overall, the pain level is nowhere near what it was this time last year, and I am definitely functioning pretty much normally in all areas of my life. I really hope that I don’t crash again in April and May, but I am better prepared if I do have a temporary grief relapse. I know now that it won’t be that bad forever, and that makes it more bearable, I think.

One thing that has kept me afloat during some of my darkest hours since Henry died, bringing me joy I can’t ever really explain fully, is the growing collection of “Henry photos” that friends and strangers alike have taken all over the planet (seriously, even Antarctica!) and sent to me. I have spent so many hours in the past 22 months poring over these photos for Henry, again and again. They are just unbelievably precious to me, and I think that they will be to Henry’s younger siblings for the rest of their lives. For Christmas this year, I had the photo up there in the left hand corner of this blog post ( taken and sent to me by a lovely German reader of my blog who was traveling in Kathmandu)  blown up and framed for each of my children, and for grandparents, aunts and uncles. It’s so beautiful. And I plan to create a special photo book for each of the kids with all the photos published in it to commemorate the second anniversary of Henry’s death in May.

Perhaps because year two is coming up soon, people have begun sending me new Henry photos in recent weeks, and I want to share all the new ones with all of you. For the first time, I am working on collecting each and every photo into a single online photo album (below), and I am adding the new pix as they come in, and older ones as I have the time. So the album will just keep growing as time passes. If you check back, I will be adding new photos every day this week.

I hope that you enjoy looking at all of these amazing, holy, wonderful, awe inspiring photos taken in memory of my child, and I wish all of you could have known him yourselves, because he was all of those things himself, and I miss him like mad.

Love, Katie

HENRY’S TRAVELS: 2010-Present

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After Losing a Child: Will the Second Anniversary Hurt As Much?

Henry Street

San Francisco


If you have lost a child, have you found that the grief that comes with each new anniversary is different? How bad was the first anniversary for you? Was the second one just as bad? Talk about your own grief experiences in the comments below.






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About Katie Allison Granju


Katie Allison Granju

Katie Allison Granju is the married mother of five children, ranging in age from toddler to teenager. In addition to blogging for Babble Voices, she also publishes her own blog, Big Good Thing. Katie also enjoys working in her flower garden, riding her bike, and feeding the chickens she keeps in the backyard of her family's large Victorian house. Read bio and latest posts → Read Katie Allison's latest posts →

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13 thoughts on “After Losing a Child: Will the Second Anniversary Hurt as Much?

  1. Melissa says:

    I hold you and your family in my heart during this season, Katie. I don’t dare compare my loss to yours. My daughter was stillborn and her twin sister was born very premature. Therefore, the anniversary of one daughter’s death is her sister’s birthday. We just passed the third anniversary/birthday and it was quite hard. I think I was actually numb the first year, because my survivor has extensive medical issues that are directly related to her sister’s death. Second year I had a really hard time gathering strength to celebrate my daughter’s birthday, but the grief wasn’t too intense. Does that even make sense? This year, I was very, very sad, despondent with grief, in the weeks leading up to the day. When it passed, it was easier for me to celebrate my daughter’s 3rd birthday. I think what helped was giving in to the feeling of sadness and mourning, even though many people expect me to be over it by now. I hope next year is a little less raw.

  2. geri a says:

    I have always found Nick’s birthday to be a much harder day than the anniversary of the day he died. and usually i am off-kilter the month before and after, although last year (the 2nd), it was for a shorter time. with the trials also coming up, i am thinking it will be a pretty emotional spring for you, take good care. and as you said, even on the darkest days, now that you have weathered so many, you know they won’t last. just have to ride out the waves. that being said, it still totally sucks.

    on a separate note, but i thought of you immediately, wondering if you saw the story in the Orlando Sentinel today? it says that Trayvon was suspended for having an empty marijuana baggie in his book bag (i immediately thought, okay, here we go, starting to blame the victim, or make him an “unattractive victim” as that moron said to you). the line that really pierced my heart was when trayvon’s mom said “he killed my son, and now they are trying to kill his reputation”. And they also asked what the empty marijuana baggie has to do with what happened, and of course, we know the answer. To make Trayvon look bad. anyway, it broke my heart for her, and for you and what you have had to endure regarding what your local paper wrote to smear Henry’s reputation.

  3. Cath Young says:

    Katie, some hurts don’t get better. You just learn to deal with them better, but the pain is still there. Some things can just pull me into an abyss if I lett them. I have learned not to focus on them when I do thing about them, and how to manage the thoughts. The pains are just as fresh if I don’t take the mental precautions.

    Much love and hugs. I wish you did not have this anniversary.

  4. MOMMMA says:

    This past January was 10 years-10!- since I lost my 7 week old son to SIDS. All I can tell you, is some years are better than others. The first year anniversary, I didn’t even get out of bed. The second, I got out of bed, but didn’t go to work. Just looked at the few pictures I had, and cried… the 3rd was slightly better, but then the 5th was a bad one again-This year, the 10th anniversary, was a bad one again. And sometimes it feels even harder because this long past people feel you should be “over it”. I will never be over it. I handle it better, I cry only when I am alone, but over it? never. Birthdays are tough too…as is watching his little sisters grow up sometimes-reaching milestones that he will never reach- always wondering what he would be like at certain ages… I won’t pretend to understand your pain- I was talking to my sister the other day, and as much as losing my 7 week old hurt and how awful it was, I think it would be even worse losing an older child- not that I loved that 7 week old any less, but I have had more years with my other children, I know them, their personalities.You had 18 years with Henry-how can you be expected to move on completely after 2 years of being without him. Sorry for the rambling. I probably do not make any sense at all!

  5. anna see says:

    those henry pictures are breathtakingly beautiful. i’ve been thinking of how losing jack seems to be getting worse and worse as the numbness wears off.

  6. Cassandre Elmore says:

    April 30th will be 6 years since my 4 year old son drowned in a hot tub. I am always dreading April. Seems the whole month is different. The pain lessens but seems the memories are stronger. Its all we have to hold on to so year after year day after day we struggle to remember the things that made our children ours. I hate that I don’t remember what his voice sounded like or how he smelled when he woke up in the morning. I do remember his beautiful red hair and his happy blue eyes and the way he would squeeze them shut when he giggled. I do miss how I will never see his reaction at the loss of his first tooth or the nervousness he would have on his first day of kindergarten. I was pregnant with his now 5 year old brother and I keep his spirit alive by describing him to his brother and keeping pictures everywhere. And on his birthday and angel day we kiss balloons and send them to heaven so he can have him. The pain does lessen and for some reason even that makes you feel bad. ~Austin Riley Elmore 8/4/01-4/30/06~

  7. Leslie says:

    Katie, though I have never met you, I think about you and your family all the time. I am doing research with one of my professors, a bereaved Mama herself, on bereavement after losing a child. I asked her about the second anniversary, and she said, both with her own experience and that of other mothers, that it was not nearly as bad as the first anniversary, but not as much better as she had been thinking and hoping it would be. She said it helped to already know what had helped the first year, as well as being better prepared for it. The first anniversary, she had no idea how bad it COULD be (even having researched it herself) because it was an unfathomable amount of pain. The second year, and years after that, it typically slowly improved.

  8. Caroline says:

    My dear mother-in-law lost not 1 but 2 sons, both at the age of 23. Phil was electrocuted at work at the family business. He had only been married 6 weeks after coming home from VietNam. The saddest thing I ever heard up til then is that his wife wished she were pregnant. Up until David’s death.
    David was best man at our wedding and was killed by a train (it was a country crossing, no lights, foggy and the train never blew it’s whistle- the railroad’s fault.)
    He passed just 3 weeks before our daughter was to have her first open heart surgery at 13 weeks. I looked to David and prayed he would be her guardian angel through her ordeal. I believe he was and still is, without a doubt.
    But at his wake, my Mother-in-law (whom I was fortunate enough to love as my own) finally broke and screamed, “It is not right for me to have to bury my children!”
    However, even tho she passed several years ago, I’ll never forget that or Mother’s faith and how it helped her through. I’ve embraced that same faith and it has helped me make decisions for our heart-child’s care. One of which was risking her life in order to buy her time before she needs the heart-lung transplant. I mourn each August 22, and it’s been 25 years.
    My sincere condolences to all of you wonderful, loving mommas out there who are going thru the grief no parent deserves. God Bless you and give you all strength and peace as the years pass. I’ll be praying for you all.

  9. Ashley says:

    Thank you for posting this. I have a 5 month old son and could’nt imagine the pain everyone is going through. What you did with the pictures is absolutely amazing. I’m crying as I look at these..

  10. Melody Harbour says:

    I offer you all that have lost children my deepest sympathy. My only son died four hours after he took his first breath….it has been nearly 36 years ago. His name was Mark and he was born on September 4, 1976. I, like you, was in shock the first entire year. Then his birthday came and that is nearly always the same weekend as the Labor Day Telethon for people (mostly children) to get together and raise money for Jerry’s Kids….I just spent the first few years watching the television and crying for their losses and mine. I was so depressed every year at this time that it literally would make me sick. After several labor days passed I decided that it was crazy for me to still be so upset on this date…in fact after years it dawned on me that I was making it worse by not getting out and doing something to get my mind off of the anniversary of my young son’s life…so I decided to make big plans every year on that date, not stay at home, and not watch television. So now I plan a trip…I go somewhere beautiful, fun, entertaining, sometimes I go by myself, other times I go with someone else, a dear friend. I am not saying I don’t get a little melancholy sad on that day, I do, but I try to stay positive and try not to dwell on something that I cannot change. It is good to have the memory of my son but making myself miserable over the loss after thirty-eight years is senseless, it doesn’t change the love for him I still have in my heart. Does it get easier, no, does it get more bearable with time, yes. For a long time after this first happened I had no idea what was wrong with me and then a very kind woman told me I was feeling the grief. I think I knew that deep down but having never lost a child, I had nothing to compare that awful feeling with. My grief is different than yours…my loss was different than yours…you may have had many years with your child, I had mine for only a few hours, but we have something very much in common, we have both lost our child, and no one will ever know how that feels until they have gone through it. A part of us will never stop grieving for the thoughts of what might have been, or those would of’s could of’s, should of’s. But most all of us have the knowledge that one of these days we will be reunited with our loved ones in heaven. God Bless You All…Melody Harbour

  11. jill says:

    My Katherine lived 11 years and 1 month. She died from a brain tumor. She would have been 30 years old. Her birthday is this Sunday. The first 5 years were the worst. I could almost recite minute by minute, the events of the last month of her life. It has gotten easier as time has passed but it forever changed me and my family.

  12. Pam says:

    Peace and Blessings for all who have lost children… it is a pain no one should have to endure.
    My (just turned) 19 year old son was killed on May 9, 2011. Even as I type those words disorientation envelopes me. I have found that the significant actual days (birthday, holidays, date of passing, etc) are easier than the emotional and physical crash that comes in the following days/weeks. The ebb and flow of memories, emotions and literal physical pain is something I have learned to go with… allowing the grief to take it’s course.
    I know that he is good, and whole, and happy, and continuing on his path which will one day include me again. I look forward to our reunion with great anticipation… but am determined to grow and bring with me greater knowledge and wisdom and love so he knows that his legacy was not that his death broke his mother.

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