It will be a time when people reflect on the loss, trauma and
devastation caused by the fires, but it will also be a time when
people remember the stories of hope and survival, and to celebrate
the ways in which the community came together to support and care
for each other.
Everyone will find themselves reacting to the anniversary
differently. What is important is that people find their own way to
mark and remember the day. Some people will attend or participate
in community memorials, while others may choose to do something
with their family or friends.
For others it may be important to go somewhere significant and
quiet to reflect alone.
Whatever people choose to do, it is important that their
decision is respected.
On the day of the anniversary you might find that you experience
a range of unwanted feelings (eg. sadness or loss). You might feel
more tired, be unable to sleep or be in a low mood.
Some people might find themselves feeling quite fearful and
overwhelmed by the day. Others might notice these feelings leading
up to the anniversary but as the day passes the feelings
For some the day will come and go and nothing will change in how
they feel. Everyone is different.
How to mark an anniversary
There is no one way to mark an anniversary. It is important to
think about what the event means for you, and then how you want to
manage it. If you decide not to mark the day you might still
experience some unwanted reactions to the anniversary, so it might
be good to have a plan about who you can contact - a friend or
family - if you need some support.
Some things that might help you to plan ahead:
Think about how you want to mark the anniversary
There are lots of different ways to mark anniversaries. Here are
- Get involved in a community event
- Create your own memorial with family and /or friends
- Create a piece of art/poetry that you share with others on the
anniversary, or load it up for others to read. Click here to go
to Bushfire Stories
- Plant a new tree somewhere significant
- If you lost someone special in the fires, think about what they
really enjoyed doing - maybe you could do it for them on the
Talk to your family/friends about how you want to/ don't
want to mark the anniversary
- Communication between family and friends is very important on
significant anniversaries. Make sure you:
- Think about what is important to you for the day
- Let family members know what you want
- Talk to family about their needs for the day
- If your wishes don't completely fit, try for a compromise
- Be aware that family members will have particular needs to know
you are safe on this day.
Think about who you might like to spend the day
- Remember that being close to friends and family can be really
Look after yourself
- Make a list of some things that you might like to do on this
day. Doing things that you enjoy can help you to balance out any
difficult or stressful emotions from the day.
Learning to live with your experience
While it might be hard to imagine, you will think less about
your bushfire experience as time passes. It is important to remind
yourself that part of your recovery is to rebuild, refocus and
learn to live with what has happened. You will always remember your
bushfire experience, but how you move forward and achieve your own
goals and aspirations is up to you.
Think about some of the positive developments that have
occurred in the recovery since the bushfire
Not everything that was affected by the bushfires will be back
to normal, but many things have been fixed or rebuilding has
Since the fires there has also been extensive work done to keep
people safe in case of more fires this season. These are positive
steps to a community rebuilding and can help you to see hope for
The losses and trauma you have experienced will always remain
with you, but the intensity of these feelings will gradually fade
and you will feel more able to cope and rebuild.
You are not alone as you recover and if you hit a tough spot
there is always help around for you.
February 2009 Victorian 'Your Bushfire Space' was made
possible thanks to the generous support of the Victorian Bushfire
Appeal Fund and has been developed in collaboration with the
Victorian Department of Health