Blessing for an Anniversary Date

Wandering in TimeImage: Wandering in Time © Jan Richardson

We are moving through a season that holds such tender markers for me, anniversaries that echo with deep sorrow instead of celebration. We have passed Halloween, the day that holds the beginnings of who Gary and I became together. His fateful surgery was November 14. His birthday—he spent his final one in the hospital—is November 17. December 2 will mark three years since Gary died.

The span of time since Gary’s death feels both surprisingly short and achingly long. These days of memory, these anniversary days I am moving through, heighten that sense of the shortness-and-longness of time, making me more keenly aware of the ways that time compresses even as it stretches out, fluid even in its seeming fixity.

From the moment the neurosurgeon came into the waiting room at 4 a.m. and said, It did not go as we anticipated, time has moved in strange ways. I have come to think of this strangeness as a consequence of having a heart that now lives in two worlds, a heart that has been torn open toward eternity even as I continue to open my heart to this life, to what is here and now.

In the strangeness of time, there is deep grace. And perhaps the strangeness itself is a grace. Perhaps the strangeness is a sign that time is wider and deeper and more whole than we can perceive in this life, that now and eternity are not the separate realms we often make them out to be.

When we travel through days of memory that stir our sorrow, when we spiral back around moments that open doors to a past we wish we had the power to change, when time seems more of a burden than a blessing, may we be given a glimpse of the eternity these days hold. May these anniversaries show us that grace and love are vaster than our sorrow, and more enduring. May we find that remembering can be a form of hope. May we know time’s strange graces and open our hearts toward the solace they hold.

Blessing for an Anniversary Date

I am imagining
you have learned by now
that time will never move
quite straight for you again—
no more forward only,
if ever it traveled that way.

Now it will be
the bend and
the turn of it,
the curve and
the cradling of it,

the unfurling,
unwinding of it
as it arcs you around
in this spiral
of seasons,
as it draws you around
in this circle
of days.

Like today,
for instance—
this day that marks
a year since last
you passed by
this gate,
this threshold,
this door
that lives with such
vividness in your
opening onto the
chamber of your heart
where what this day once held
keeps happening.

Let yourself listen
for the liturgy
that persists here,
for the life you shared
that still opens out
along secret paths.

Let yourself
linger again
at the door
of this day.

Let yourself
give yourself into
its hours with
exquisite kindness
and wondrous care.

Light the candles
in celebration
of what remains,
in the ceremony
of what abides
in the shelter
of these hours,
in the mystery
of this day.

—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow

The Cure for Sorrow


A blessing meets us in the place of our deepest loss. In that place, it gives us a glimpse of wholeness and claims that wholeness here and now. —from the Introduction

Jan’s much-anticipated new book enters with heartbreaking honesty into the rending that loss brings. It moves, too, into the unexpected shelters of solace and hope, inviting us to recognize the presence of love that, as she writes, is “sorrow’s most lasting cure.”

Available now for pre-order on Amazon.


Using Jan’s artwork…
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Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

4 Responses to “Blessing for an Anniversary Date”

  1. Cheryl Says:

    After reading this, I realized that we are truly given the ability to time-travel — it happens when we remember. Our memories are just as real as what is happening right now. And, we can visit them as often as we want or need to.

  2. Janet Says:

    Thank you for this. November 12 is the 19 th anniversary of my Mom’s death and November 12 the 4th of my Dad’s. This time of the year is always difficult, but it has gotten easier over the years. The joy and blessing of having them as my parents have overcome the grief of just missing them. I’m able to remember them when they were healthy and strong in mind, body and spirit instead of during the sadness of their last days. Your poetry and writings have really spoken to me and I’ve gifted your books to many friends. May you feel God’s tender mercies and loving embrace as you walk through this anniversary of sorrow.

  3. Jane Kimidy Says:

    Jan, I have followed your journey and thought of you today when I found this newly recorded album by Olivia Newton John, Beth Neilson Chapman and Amy Sky called Liv On. It is filled with songs about loss and hope. Here is the link:

  4. Rebecca Carpenter Says:

    Your words touched my heart. Only someone who has experienced the loss of a loved one can truly understand. Within eleven months, I lost both of my parents and my husband. In January, it will be three years since Alan died. God has been with me during it all. Thank you for your thoughts.
    I am also a writer and put forty of my devotionals into a book, Ambushed by Glory in My Grief, so that others can be helped. I pray that you can celebrate on the 17th as you grieve.

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