Anxiety and anticipation leading up to summer and holidays can be more intense than the actual events. When we experience grief, it takes a real physiological toll. Planning can help lower anxiety and stress for anyone grieving a death loss. The key to making it through, and our favorite personal mantra, is, “Easy does it.” While everyone around you may be running, hollering, and living it up, you have suffered the trauma of loss due to death. That takes different planning and care.
If you know children who have experienced a death loss, involve them in discussions about what they would like to do. Doing so will give them a sense of control and safety.
Here are some ideas to help you and your loved ones cope during Summer and its many celebrations.
DON’T LET OTHER PEOPLE DETERMINE WHAT YOU SHOULD (OR SHOULDN’T) DO.
You don’t have to do what everyone else does or what other people may insist that you should do. We permit you – and hope you will do the same – to do what you want!
ACCEPT LIMITATIONS. You may not be able to do everything you’ve always done. Make a list of the activities that feel good and those that don’t. Consider scaling back or changing something you may have done in the past, and know that the death loss you have experienced may completely change your life.
BE INFORMED BEFORE ATTENDING EVENTS. Find out who will be there, how long it will last, and whether you need to do anything to prepare for it or if you should avoid it altogether. It is OK to avoid people and events that will trigger unpleasant emotions.
TAKE TIME FOR SELF-CARE. The summertime can be physically and emotionally draining due to hot weather, more time spent outdoors, and longer days. It can be incredibly draining when you are grieving a death loss. We encourage rest, quiet time, healthy eating, and hydration. Give yourself a break, surround yourself with a strong support system, and take time to recharge.
FIND WAYS TO REMEMBER AND HONOR YOUR PERSON. Include memories of your person in your summer plans. Here are some ideas:
Light a memorial candle. Invite children and other friends/family to share memories after you light it.
Write a card or letter to your person, put it somewhere special, or burn it to turn your words into the ether.
Write memories on strips of paper and create a paper chain.
Hang a special decoration outside in memory of your person, such as a plant or flag.
Buy a gift the person would have liked and donate it to a charity.
Set a special memorial place at the table during holiday meals.
Create a memorabilia table or corner where you can place photos, stuffed animals, toys, cards, food, and other mementos.
Food can be an excellent inspiration for sharing memories – make your person’s favorite food.