Coping with special occasions after a loss.
When coping with loss, what is the best way to handle the days that bring with them the possibility of additional hardship?
The grieving process can make someone coping with loss feel like a washing machine being bounced around without any choice of what will hit them next. The topic of how to handle special occasions comes up a lot, of course one of many challenges with this would be because these days have other attachments to them and meaningful ones at that, so most likely it's going to be a harder day to manage.
Most likely you will be dreading the big dates as they loom on the calendar because you think, how can something that’s already so hard get any harder? How can I cope when I feel like I have nothing left to give?
A couple of things I'd like to suggest, which are simple and clear: on those big days, plan to be sad. It may sound strange, because of all the plans we make in our life, planning to be sad doesn’t usually go on our to-do list.
Grieving people who thought that if they just held their breath and closed their eyes the day would pass without notice and that they could get through it like any other day. Normally, that's not the case.
A lot of life is about anticipating, and planning to be sad means having a plan for the day. It’s not about dread, it’s about taking some control. And control is something most people who are coping with loss feel they have lost.
So what does planning to be sad look like? It means thinking about what will bring you some comfort on that day. You may like to light a memorial candle for your loved one or even write a letter to your forever friend/s and read it out loud to him/her.
Surround yourself with those who lift you up, or retreat to the place where you will find the most solace and peace. You get to say how you do this, and doing what you can to surround yourself with what comforts and nourishes you can make a difference in how you cope.
There are no guarantees, and nothing changes the fact that these big days can make a hard time even harder. But no matter how you choose to commemorate it and no matter what steps you take to bring some comfort, at the end of the day you will have gotten through it.
For those coping with loss, getting through the day is sometimes the best we can hope for.