After the loss of a loved one, holidays and other special days can be very difficult, for the first few years, and for some, these days are always difficult. The following suggestions are meant to be helpful. Please use what resonates with you.
As a qualified grief practitioner and longtime facilitator of support groups for Survivors of Suicide Loss, I want to share the following, as participants in talks on this subject have found the following helpful.
First, know that for many the anticipation of the day is often worse than the day itself. Make sure you do what you need to do, for you. Know that you do not have to hold holidays at your house, you do not have to do things for other people even if they “expect” it. You have the right to take care of yourself, and do what is best for you.
Second, take control of the period of time leading up to the special day by the following strategy:
1. Plan the day. Know that what you plan is not as important as planning itself (planning puts control in your hands).
2. Allow flexibility on the day. Planning is more about the time leading up to the day, so be open to the flow of the day itself.
3. After the day, evaluate. Was what you did that day helpful? Not helpful? What would you do differently?
Other words of wisdom…
4. Do not be afraid to change your holiday traditions. Some
traditions may be a comfort to you, while others may cause pain. Consider what traditions you want to keep, traditions that will serve you, honor your loved one, and allow you to remember good times are worth keeping. On the other hand, allow yourself the right to choose not to follow other traditions that will be too painful. Know that you can skip a tradition this year, or every year. It is up to you.
5. Seek Sustenance for the Soul. Your place of worship, church, synagogue, mosque or other faith community may offer services, resources, and support networks for the bereaved. Of course, SOSL Support Groups are here for you as well, and we also have people you can call or email for support (under “Talk to Some-one” at www.SOSLsd.org/support/phone).
Using the above tips and strategies you may find a variety of ways that work for you.
Over my many years of facilitating support groups, I have talked with many survivors about what works best for them in regard to getting through the holidays. I know of one woman who was very connected to her faith, yet she found spending a major holiday in a casino worked best for her. We figured the casino was such a distracting environment and it turned out to be a good choice for her.
Another family I knew lost a child around Christmas time, so for the first few years after their child’s death they went skiing to get out of town.