How to cope with loss during special occasions

Living with bereavement is hard, but during special occasions such as Christmas or birthdays, or on anniversaries, the sense of loss can be even more acute. Here’s our advice on coping during these times if you are missing somebody who has died.

Be patient with yourself

Whether it’s your first year without someone or you were bereaved a long time ago, special occasions can cause mixed emotions. For some people, they can evoke fond and happy memories, while for others they can cause feelings of sadness, regret, anger or guilt. You may move from one feeling to the next. Grief is not a linear process; try to remember all of these responses are normal and be kind to yourself.

Mark the occasion in a way that feels right for you

The idea of celebrating may comfort you, or you might find this daunting. You may not feel like celebrating at all, simply wish to maintain your normal day-to-day routine, or do something completely different. It can help to spend some time in the lead up to the event trying to work out which arrangements will best suit your needs.

If you do decide to mark the day, there are various ways go doing so. Perhaps you could spend it as you always did, or honour traditions you shared with the person who has died. You could do something ritualistic the helps you feel close to that person, such as lighting a candle, visiting somewhere you made happy memories, or writing them a letter. You may find it comforting to take part in spiritual or community events, such as our Lights of Love service.

Be sensitive to others

During times of heightened emotion, conflict or resentment can arise in families or between people who are grieving the sae person. It is important to remember that everyone’s experience of grief is unique – there is no ‘normal’ – and your good and bad days or wishes for special occasions may not align with others. Try to be accepting and understanding, remembering that regardless of others, you can still honour your relationship with the person who has died.

Talk openly

It can be hard to talk, particularly if you are processing difficult emotions, but try to be honest with those around you about how you’re feeling and if there is anything practical they can do to help. By communicating openly, for example about your wishes as to marking a special occasion or not, or how you are feeling in a particular moment, others will understand your decisions and can support you better. If your loved one was cared for here and feel you would benefit from counselling support, social groups or ‘walk and talks’ with others who are learning to live with loss, please call us on 01444 471598.

Do something kind for other people

Even if you’re not feeling your best, you still have something to offer the world and may find it comforting to help others or brighten someone else’s day. It could be something as simple as buying a cuppa, texting to let someone know what they mean to you, or you could spend time volunteering or give to charity.

Keep to regular patterns of basic self-care

In the lead up o special occasions, or during periods of time around anniversaries that may be emotionally challenging, you could find your normal routine is disrupted, which can make it easier to forget to look after yourself. Try to keep to your regular patterns of sleeping and eating, to ensure your basic needs are met. Activities such as a walk in nature, meeting a friend, meditating or engaging in a hobby can all be helpful in boosting your overall wellbeing.