Coping With Special Occasions After the Loss Of a Loved One

DEALING WITH “1ST’s” AFTER THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE

It can be extremely difficult to survive through special occasions without a loved one, particularly if it is your first time without them. Whether it be your first Easter without your grandmother, your first Valentine’s day since your divorce, or your first Mother’s day without your mother, feelings of grief, sadness and loneliness can resurface stronger than ever. 

  1. DECIDE WHAT YOU CAN HANDLE COMFORTABLY AND LET FAMILY AND FRIENDS KNOW. Can I handle the responsibility of the family dinner, etc. or shall I ask someone else to do it? Do I want to talk about my loved one or not? Shall I stay here for the event or go to a completely different environment?
  2. MAKE SOME CHANGES IF THEY FEEL COMFORTABLE FOR YOU. Open presents Christmas Eve instead of Christmas morning. Vary the timing of gift giving. Celebrate with your children on Valentine’s day instead. Have dinner at a different time or place. Let the children take over decorating the house, baking and food preparation, etc.
  3. RE-EXAMINE YOUR PRIORITIES: GREETING CARDS, HOLIDAY BAKING, DECORATING, EASTER EGGS, PUTTING UP A TREE, FAMILY DINNER, ETC. Do I really enjoy doing this? Is this a task that can be shared?
  4. CONSIDER DOING SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR SOMEONE ELSE. Donate a gift in the memory of your loved one. Donate money you would have spent on your loved one as a gift to charity. Adopt a needy family for the holidays. Invite a guest (foreign student, senior citizen) to share festivities.
  5. RECOGNISE YOUR LOVED ONE’S PRESENCE IN THE FAMILY. Burn a special candle to quietly include your loved one. Hang a stocking for your loved one in which people can put notes with their thoughts or feelings. Listen to music especially liked by the deceased. Look at photographs.
  6. IF YOU DECIDE TO DO HOLIDAY SHOPPING, MAKE A LIST AHEAD OF TIME AND KEEP IT HANDY FOR A GOOD DAY, OR SHOP THROUGH A CATALOGUE.
  7. OBSERVE THE HOLIDAYS IN WAYS WHICH ARE COMFORTABLE FOR YOU. There is no right or wrong way of handling special events. Once you’ve decided how to observe the time, let others know.
  8. TRY TO GET ENOUGH REST – SPECIAL OCCASIONS CAN BE EMOTIONALLY AND PHYSICALLY DRAINING.
  9. ALLOW YOURSELF TO EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS. Special occasions often magnify feelings of loss. It is natural to feel sadness. Share concerns, apprehensions, feelings with a friend. The need for support is often greater during special occasions.
  10. KEEP IN MIND THAT THE EXPERIENCE OF MANY BEREAVED PERSONS IS THAT THEY DO COME TO ENJOY SPECIAL OCCASIONS AGAIN. THERE WILL BE OTHER SPECIAL OCCASIONS IN THE FUTURE TO CELEBRATE.
  11. DON’T BE AFRAID TO HAVE FUN. Laughter and joy are not disrespectful. Give yourself and your family members permission to celebrate and take pleasure in the holidays.

Grief is a normal (and difficult) process that is different for everyone who experiences it. If you are concerned about your grief, speak to your GP or give us a call. Our team of highly skilled and experienced grief psychologists are here to help.

Reference: http://griefnet.org/library/tips.html