The first year of grief can be extremely difficult for the mourner because there are so many “firsts” without the loved one present. Each special day can become a painful reminder of the loss. Here are some practical tips for the mourner trying to navigate through that first year of birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and family gatherings without a loved one physically present.
- You are not alone, and you should not try to do your grief on your own and by yourself. You can ask for help & support without feeling guilty.
- Neither love for the missing person nor grief take a vacation or the day off. Don’t try to put your grief on hold even for special observances. Your need to grieve in healthy ways continues.
- Talk about your grief. Be with those who will listen, support & not judge you. You have an ongoing need to remember your loved one in meaningful and healing ways.
- Be patient with yourself. Realize your limitations. Don’t overdo.
- Eliminate unnecessary stress. Grief is stressful enough without adding new stresses or obligations for yourself.
- Do what is right for you during the special day(s). Explain to others what your plans are for the special observances & holidays.
- Plan ahead for the day. And if the plan doesn’t appear to be working, go directly into Plan B.
- Embrace the memories of your loved one.
- Remember the dread of the special day is usually worse than experiencing the day itself.
- Honor your loved one in a meaningful way.
- Communicate with others. Don’t suffer in silence. Occasional time in solitude can be helpful, but withdrawing from others in your grief only adds to your stress and pain.
- Ask for help if you need it. If you don’t ask for what you need, you will probably not get it.
Posted by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise” available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).
The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa”
Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX http://grief-works.org.