Freedom to Feel Freely



“…you live with two calendars. One that keeps track of time, while the other stores emotional experiences.” Deborah Serani

Today marks the 8thanniversary of my blog. I posted my first post, a funny story about the common sense of getting exercise titled “The Sense of Walking,” on July 4, 2010.

My friend celebrates the anniversary of her birth every year on Independence Day. We joke that she’s “free” not to count the year as she ages closer to 60.

Another friend’s July 4thanniversary breaks my heart. Her young grandson died five years ago today from an allergic reaction to shellfish.

We remember anniversaries of births, marriages, and occasions like beginning my blog, and also deaths, divorces, and losses that haunt us.


Survivors share about getting past the “firsts” –the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, the first birthday of a loved one after they’ve left – all anniversaries, of sorts. Dread escalates the closer we get to the first anniversary of whatever we’re grieving. We’re not sure how we’ll handle emotions we’ve hidden and hoarded for 12 months. We post on Facebook something like, “Once a year, I let myself stay in bed and eat cake and grieve.”

We remember where we were and how we felt when planes crashed into the twin towers on September 11, 2001. We feel it all over again every September 11th because we said, “We will never forget.” We need to know it’s okay to feel it all over again in the spring and in June too, but we seldom mention 9-11 other than on its anniversary.


An anniversary doesn’t have to be a specific date. It may end up being a month or a season when an event took place. The first bin of pumpkins I spot in the produce section reminds me of my daughter’s wedding. It still catches me off guard even though, for the past six years, reminiscing in the grocery store happens around the same time every fall. I forget what I’m shopping for while I remember how I felt helping her choose her dress. How I felt shopping with friends for my mother-of-the-bride outfit. How I felt picking through pumpkins and sunflowers we used to trim the tables for her reception. Why not feel happy like that in February and in the middle of summer?

Christmas and Easter are anniversaries in the church. Throughout the year we’re taught remembrance when we take communion, but there’s something more palpable about worship during anniversary services of Jesus’s birth, death, and resurrection. I want to always worship with that intensity.

Today, July 4th, is the anniversary on which we celebrate our country’s freedom. We show off our patriotism by flying flags high and shooting off fireworks into the night. The other 364 days, though, we’re accustomed to containing our patriotism, but why? We could boast like my friend, Kathy, who posts weekly about how much she loves our country. Her dad moved here from Greece, so gratitude for their American citizenship runs deep.

Today, I’m grateful for this anniversary and others. There’s just something about anniversaries and feeling our feelings. They go together like hot dogs and the 4th. Deborah Serani, Psy.D., writer of the quote at the beginning of this post, named that “something” in an article in Psychology Today. She said, “’Anniversary Effect’, sometimes called Anniversary Reaction, is defined as a unique set of unsettling feelings, thoughts or memories that occur on the anniversary of a significant experience.”


Having a “date” with our emotions gives us permission to feel. Otherwise, we think no one wants to hear much about our delight, our sadness, our love, our loss, our success, our fear, our memories, our pain, or our patriotism.

The more manuscript I write about feeling our feelings, the more I want it to be okay to share my emotions beyond once a year. I hope my writing extends permission to you too.

In This Together,





13 responses »

  1. Great post, Kim, deep, heartwarming…and you drew some tears from this hardass ex-mercenary (but if the bell rings, I’ll go out again, pancreatic cancer notwithstanding…just can’t bear being left out of a fight).

    I don’t really do anniversaries. I’m locked into a narrative that says I’m going to die, and that I should take comfort in looking back, and letting the pain and sorrow of today be a key to unlock the meaning of yesterday.

    Yeah, well. I’m REALLY GOOD at picking locks, and I’ve escaped that nasty paradigm. I’m looking ahead. Maybe this will all be miraculously healed, the pancreatic cancer and the non-Hodgkins lymphoma, but even if it isn’t, I’m pointing myself at tomorrow, and I’ll just take the crap and the pain and all that with me.

    I’ll make my memories out of the next dawn’s breaking light, and celebrate the anniversaries of that which still lies ahead.

    • Hi Andrew, I love what a friend told me about tears … he said it meant I was melting. It made it easier to cry from then on. I’m touched that you found something in my blog post that melted you a little. ❤

      Let's make a deal that you're hanging around so we can celebrate another anniversary of knowing each other, whether you do anniversaries or not. Yeah, I’m kind of bossing you around. 🙂 I'm praying for a miracle for you. Thanks for commenting when I'm sure you don't feel up to it. I really appreciate it!

  2. Kim, you are so right. On anniversaries we do remember the good, bad and ugly. Something kicks our memory but it is mostly the date of the actual event. Why not be happy or sad on “ just other days”? Why does it have to be on a certain date or time. It is like THAT DATE is the only date WE GIVE OURSELVES to weep, laugh or get mad.
    I say do it when your heart tells you too. Even when it’s not the time. Give yourself permission.
    Great Blog
    Love you😍😘

    • Lyn, I love what you wrote, “I say do it when your heart tells you to.” Yes, that’s what I was trying to say. Our heart needs to be listened to and attended to. Otherwise it hardens and so do we. Permission frees us and our hearts to soften and feel and find our way. ❤

      Thanks so much for your comment, sweet friend. I love you! ❤

  3. Kim, I love the idea of having a date with our emotions. As someone who grew up in a family where no one else expressed feelings except me, I learned pretty early that it wasn’t “polite” to feel too much. In my 61st year I am learning to honor and give more space for my feelings and it feels like a sweet coming home to do so. Thank you for your lovely healing voice!

    • I love and relate to every single word of your comment, Kristine. Every single word. ❤

      It is "like a sweet coming home." I couldn't have said it more perfectly. Trying to tuck away my emotions made me sick emotionally and physically. I know why I did it and I'm relieved to know I don't have to do it anymore. I guess our 60s is the season for self-care and self-honor.

      Thanks so much for sharing your insights! ❤

  4. From Facebook (Kim Henson) ~

    Betty Butler, Delilah Lewis and 14 others

    1 Share

    Kim Henson Kathy Andros Eckert, I mentioned you and your dad here. 🇺🇲️😊💙

    Kathy Andros Eckert Excellent, Kim Henson!! Just excellent!! You have a gift and I so admire your writing!! 😘🇺🇸🙏🏻

    Kim Henson Thanks a million, Kathy Andros Eckert. I appreciate having you and your dad as examples for my post. ❤ Love you lots! 😍

    Delilah Lewis Your writing is awesome

    Kim Henson Thanks so much, Delilah Lewis! Love you! ❤ And happy 4th! 🇺🇲️

    Tammy James Quinn Love this so much….the first time I really experienced this was after my dad died suddenly. It was the Friday before Mothers Day. Every year without warning I start to feel blue around this time. And then my Dan died on May 30th, so it's a rollercoaster month. I love what you wrote. I want to do the same.♥♥♥

    Kim Henson That's a lot of loss in May, Tammy James Quinn. Dan looks and sounds like a treasure. ❤ August is sort of like that around except it had some high highs along with the low lows. I remember our son saying he didn't want his firstborn to have an August birthday, but he does, which helped prove the month good. I don't hold my breath all through it now. I so appreciate you and your comment. 🤗

    Mandy Pate Beautiful article and so true.
    Two days ago I was talking with a women who mentioned that June was always a bad month for her..both of her parents’ deaths, as well as another family tragedy, happened in the month of June. 😢

    Kim Henson Awe, thanks, Mandy Pate. ☺️ I wonder if a lot of us have a month like that since tragedy sometimes happens in clusters. Our month was August until good things started coming along then too. That's when Rusty's little boy was born, so that and a couple of other things brightened up the month a lot. I'm so sorry for the woman you talked to. 💙

  5. Kim, I’m just now getting around to reading this. I am going at turtle pace because I’m experiencing full-on “anniversary effect” and have been for the past 2 months. Our wedding anniversary was in June, and the anniversary of his death is July 30. I already hated July because so much bad stuff happened in this month over the years. My emotions are more raw now than they were when I was still in a fog right after his death. Apparently that’s a common occurrence among widows. Anyway, thanks once again for giving voice to what so many of us feel, and I’m rooting for your book to be finished soon. I think mine is hopelessly bogged down but maybe I can revive it–after July is over.

    • Mary, I didn’t realize it’d been a year since Rich’s death. I’m so sorry. I’m thinking about you since I know a lot goes along with this upcoming anniversary. ❤ August used to be a rough month around here, but now it's balanced out with some happy events. I hope July does the same for you. It not, I hope it flies by.

      You'll get back to your book and blog when it's time. Right now it's time to take care of yourself. I forget how important that is sometimes. I love your gratitude posts. Those are helpful and hopeful to those of us reading along who need a reminder to be thankful.

      Sending love and hugs your way! ❤

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