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  • Writer's pictureJulie Lee

Coping with bereavement on anniversaries and special occasions

grieving on special occasions
Special occasions are a poignant reminder of the void left by lost loved ones

Grief is a journey that ebbs and flows, marked by moments of intense sorrow and quiet reflection. And on anniversaries, birthdays, and other special days, the absence of a loved one can feel particularly acute. These milestones serve as poignant reminders of the void left by their absence, stirring up a whirlwind of emotions that can be overwhelming. But amidst the pain, there are ways to honour their memory and find solace within the grief.

Acknowledge Your Feelings: The first step in managing grief on special days is to acknowledge your feelings without judgment or expectation. Allow yourself to experience whatever emotions arise, whether it's sadness, anger, or even moments of joy as you reminisce about happy memories shared with your loved one. Remember, there's no right or wrong way to grieve, and it's okay to feel a range of emotions on these special days, or on any day for that matter.

Plan Ahead: Anticipating the anniversary of a loved one's passing or their birthday can often intensify feelings of grief. To help manage these emotions, consider planning ahead and decide how you want to honour their memory. Whether it's visiting their favourite spot, lighting a candle in or simply spending time with friends or family, having a plan in place can provide a sense of comfort and purpose on these difficult days.

Create New Traditions: While special days may never be the same without your loved one, creating new traditions can help you find meaning and connection. Maybe planting a tree, cooking their favourite meal, or participating in an activity they loved, finding ways to continue their legacy can bring a sense of healing and renewal on these special occasions.

Reach Out for Support: Grieving is a deeply personal experience, but you don't have to do it alone. Reach out to friends, family members, or support groups who can offer empathy, understanding, and a listening ear on days when grief feels particularly heavy. Sharing memories and stories of your loved one can provide comfort and validation, reminding you that you're not alone in your grief. Remember, grief is a product of love so it's important to give yourself permission to grieve in whichever way feels best for you. If you got rid of your grief, you'd be getting rid of the love too!

Practice Self-Care: On days when grief feels overwhelming, it's essential to prioritise self-care and compassion for yourself. Take time to engage in activities that bring you comfort and peace, whether it's going for a walk in nature, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or indulging in a favourite hobby. Remember to be gentle with yourself and take small steps.

Seek Meaning and Connection: While grief can feel isolating, finding meaning and connection can help ease the pain of loss on special days. You may want to honour your loved one's memory through acts of kindness, volunteer work, or charitable donations. Meaning making is part of the grieving process and many use activities like this to complete this stage. By finding purpose and connection in within your grieving process, you can create a lasting legacy that represents their life and the love you shared.

Remember, grief is a journey that unfolds over time, and healing is a gradual process. On anniversaries, birthdays, and other special days, it's natural for grief to resurface in unexpected ways. But by acknowledging your feelings, planning ahead, creating new traditions, reaching out for support, practicing self-care, and seeking meaning and connection, you can find comfort and peace as you navigate the complex terrain of grief on these special occasions.


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