Mum and daughter singing happy birthday to grandad.

Coping with special occasions following the loss of a loved one

Often the days that are imbued with celebration and happiness are difficult for those that are bereaved. Significant dates and special occasions such as birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s day or Christmas, for those whose loved one’s have died, are often difficult.

The build-up to significant dates can be very hard, with adverts and media bombarding us with pictures of happy times, bringing with it memories of when loved ones had been alive, and the thud of reality that they have died.

The newly bereaved can find special occasions particularly painful, another ‘first without them’ that needs to be overcome, but even those whose loved one passed away a long time ago, can feel sad.

The natural instinct is to try and pretend it isn’t happening, squashing down feelings, which doesn’t usually work. What helps is to allow feelings of sadness to be expressed, often through finding a focus for the grief, and then choosing to do something comforting. I suggest maybe lighting a candle, writing a letter, reading a poem or looking at photographs of loved ones. Then perhaps going for a walk or having a meal with friends or family. Listening to music or watching a funny film.

When someone you love has died, it is the connection and love of others that supports you to heal.

A guest blog by Julia Samuel, Psychotherapist and author of 'Grief Works'.