Coping with Holidays and Special Events

Holidays, birthdays and anniversaries can be difficult times after the death of a loved one. Emotional wounds can ache during these occasions of warmth and cheer. Feelings of isolation and loneliness can magnify. 

During the first year after a death, those special moments in life – holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays – are experienced for the first time without our loved one. Then, too, at the end of the first year, there is the anniversary of the death.

As you journey through life, special days of significance may always trigger thoughts and feelings about the death of your loved one. It is possible to move through these times in ways that can be meaningful to you. 

According to an article from PBS called Getting Through the Holidays: Advice From the Bereaved, there are a number of “dilemmas” associated with holidays:

  1. The Requirement of Cheerfulness
  2. The Mine Field of Social Exchanges
  3. The Complexity of Decisions
  4. The Ambush of Powerful Feelings

Some advice in the article that we liked included:

  • Planning ahead and having alternate plans, even if you don’t use them
  • Consider changing your routine (every celebration doesn’t have to be exactly like the last!)
  • Take charge of your social life
  • Consider scaling back
  • Be gentle with yourself
  • Have an exit strategy
  • Honor your loved one’s memory
  • Find people who will provide support
  • Consider attending a support group

Consider the holiday season as the beginning of a new journey, a time to enjoy special memories of the past and the promise of the future. Enjoy the comfort of friends and family.

Many of Evergreen’s services focus on support for people who are having difficulty coping with their grief or are anticipating grief. Support groups for adults, children and teens, as well as one-to-one counselling, can help people adapt when a loved one has died.