The Special Days of Grief


BY: Diane Snyder Cowan

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss
​Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and other special days can all be grief triggers. This past Father’s Day it seemed as if there were countless advertisements and media displays about dads. I am certain there were just as many last year but as this was this first Father’s Day post dad’s death, I was hypersensitive.

Our feelings of grief are heightened on days that we are accustomed to celebrating with our love ones.  They represent family togetherness and expectations of joy and happiness. On Father’s Day we always celebrated Dad’s birthday, which was in close proximity. The standing joke was that my dad required that we have TWO cards.

Some suggest that you be prepared and have a plan. You can do something special or something completely different. Some bereaved try not to think about it or pretend it‘s just another day. They want to skip over the holidays or erase them from the calendar.  In truth, the day will come and go. It will be different from previous years just by the mere fact that your loved one is no longer physically present.  It can be helpful to brace yourself.

While these celebratory days may be changed forever, they can become special occasions to remember your loved one in a positive way and keep including that person in your life. We can view these special days as commemorations rather than celebrations.  As we adjust to life without our loved one, we need to try different ways to manage the pain of grief.

Birthdays can be marked by making and eating your loved one’s favorite dessert. Wedding anniversaries can be observed by looking through photo albums of vacations taken together.  Light a candle, visit a favorite spot, buy a gift to add to your loved one’s collection, or donate to a charity that meant something to your loved one. These are ways of remembering and honoring their life.

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