The annual Ipswich Hospice Remembrance Ceremony is drawing fast upon us again (COVID permitting). It’s important for us to highlight how difficult this time of year is for many and have in mind some possible strategies to get through it.
This is often a time of mixed feelings; it can be exceptionally painful and the absence of that loved one may be felt even more intensely.
It is especially important at this time to take care of yourself and those around you who are also grieving. While some people keep busy to distract themselves, others prefer to withdraw to their memories and reflections; there is no right or wrong way to act or feel.
It’s hard to predict how one will feel, so it’s a good idea to put some safeguards into place.
So, what can we do to be helpful – for others or ourselves during this day and for future special days and anniversaries?
For everyone, the experience will be different, and what will help one to make their way through ‘special’ but difficult days will vary. It’s a good idea to think ahead and to have a plan in place (or maybe even a couple of plans, so that one can go with the option that seems right to them on the day – or maybe it’s simply the least wrong option). Planning can give a greater sense of control, which can help to ease some of the anxiety and concern one may be feeling. It’s a good idea to make sure friends and family know that it is a difficult time for you. Often, they feel unsure how to act around you so let them know that it is okay for them to talk to you about your loved one and if you get upset than that’s okay too.
Finding ways to remember the person who is not with them anymore might be helpful. They may want to light a candle, talk about them, share memories and stories with others who loved them too, have a drink for them or some other ritual that may allow their importance to be acknowledged. If children are missing the person too, involve them and find out how they would like to remember their loved one. The more naturally we include those who have died in our lives, our story telling and our celebrations, the more naturally we can move back and forth between treasured memories and painful absence.
Remembering that it’s okay to have a cry and to be sad is important. Sometimes though, we also need to give ourselves permission to laugh and enjoy those around us. Let yourself have fun. If you are feeling happy, go with it. Don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself if this occurs. Happiness and sadness can coexist and being happy is not disrespectful to the memory of your loved one.
If you need support, find ways to ask for it. You may look to family and friends. You may also prefer to talk to someone who didn’t know the person who died and who can provide support and who is not also grieving their loss. Help is available if you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask and find out what’s available. Try to not suppress your emotions e.g., if you need to have a good cry, then do so as you will likely feel better afterwards. Most importantly, ensure that you take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself, don’t expect too much of yourself. Give yourself permission to do less. People will understand. The most important thing is taking care of yourself and those close to you.
– Tiina J., Social Worker