The story of all our lives has a beginning and an end. Some stories are longer than others, and some end far too soon.
No matter how long a loved one’s story is, saying goodbye can leave us feeling overwhelmed with emotions.
Those emotions tend to resurface during the holidays, when a certain song plays, or at birthdays and anniversaries. These special days or moments in time remind us of the memories we have of that special someone, and it can lead to a feeling of experiencing their loss all over again.
Steps to overcoming grief
Some think that a flood of emotions around specific dates or memories may be a setback in the grieving process. Our experience informs us that it is actually an important part of the grieving process. It is a reflection of your loved one’s life — a reminder of how important they were (and still are) to you.
Special dates and memories may make you happy and want to celebrate openly or quietly. Conversely, they may be moments that make you feel hurt, angry, or focused on past conflicts and traumas. When memories of a loved one become difficult to deal with, it can make us think, “How will I ever get past feeling this way?”
If you find yourself feeling this way, rest assured that you are on your healing path. Here are some ways that you can help yourself through these moments of reflection:
1. Be prepared
Feeling strong emotions during certain times of the year is normal. Try to use this time for healing. Plan to visit your loved one where they have been laid to rest. Let those around you who care for you know that it might be a difficult day for you.
2. Remember your relationship
Focus on the good times, rather than dwell on the loss. Watch some family videos or look through some happy photos. Letter writing can also be used as a therapy to heal grief. Consider writing a letter to your loved one, reflecting on some of your treasured moments together.
3. Start a new tradition
Come up with some things that you can do to keep their memory alive and to celebrate your loved one. If they enjoyed art and culture, paint or draw a picture, or listen to their favourite song or artist. If they were the outdoorsy type, go for a walk on a trail, take some photos of things they would like, and enjoy the scenery. You could also consider making a charitable donation to an organization or cause that was near and dear to them.
4. Gather with loved ones
Schedule a visit with loved ones when you are likely to feel alone or be reminded of your loss. Include people who were special to your loved one too.
Surround yourself with those who will encourage you to talk about your loss, if that is what you need, or those that will sit quietly with you and remember.
It’s often the case that people think they have to grieve alone, but you should know that’s not the case! Stay connected to your support systems and remember there are always bereavement support groups too.
5. Allow yourself to feel all your emotions
Be sad, be angry if you need to — it’s okay to do so. And when those feelings are out, remember to let yourself be happy and to celebrate the special memories. You might even find yourself both laughing and crying at the same time. Do what’s right for you.
Death is a topic we’re all going to experience in our lives. Know that there are loved ones, support groups, and resources that you can access to make the process easier. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help.