It’s a time of year when there seems to be a celebration nearly every weekend. Mother’s Day has just passed and Father’s Day is next in line along with countless graduations, weddings, and showers. But often these times of joy can be mixed with grief and older adults who have lost their parent(s), siblings, spouses or life-long friends can find it a challenge to participate in some celebrations.
“Holidays and other important days can be very hard. It may be helpful to plan ahead and think about new traditions or celebrations that support healing,” suggests the Canadian Mental Health Association.
While there is no simple, one-fits-all solution, holidays can be a time of healing. Planning ahead and asking for support will help those experiencing grief manage celebrations. Being honest about emotions rather than stifling feelings is important or they may return as anger or depression.
Combining new traditions along with some of the old can foster a sense of moving forward while still holding loved-ones who have passed in your memory. Finding the balance between having time alone and dwelling in the past and in grief can be a challenge. But getting stuck in a rut of isolation, guilt or apathy can lead to depression.
Tips for Managing Grief and Celebrations
- Take it one holiday at a time
- It’s ok to scale back if overwhelmed – take care of yourself physically and emotionally
- Be sure to include grieving family in plans – let them know they are included
- Share fond memories, focus on happy recollections rather than the absence
- Start with 20 minutes at a gathering and go from there
- If possible, have your own transportation so you can leave without disruption
- Don’t feel guilty about enjoying yourself – what would your loved-one want for you?
- Volunteering is a great way to give tribute and focus on others
- Give yourself permission to feel your grief, anger or melancholy
For more information about grieving, visit www.cmha.ca .