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What Happens When Your Loved One Dies on a Special Occasion?


Grieving Process

Posted On: Mar 13, 2017

What Happens When Your Loved One Dies on a Special Occasion?

Christmas. Easter. Your birthday. Valentine's Day. A meaningful anniversary. Losing a loved one on an important occasion is a unique circumstance that we desperately wish didn't have to happen to anyone. It's a regretful inevitability, a statistical heartbreak that can affect how you view that holiday for the rest of your life. Death always casts a pall. Death on a special day does more damage. You can't get away from annual events. You can't escape the days that mean something. That's why it's crucial to learn how to cope.

You Don't Have to “Keep the Spirit”

Don't let anyone tell you to fight through what you're feeling in order to preserve the “spirit” of the day. Regardless of when your loved one's death occurs, whether it's Christmas or a birthday, the sentimentality and social cues of the day mean nothing right now. Your mourning does not stop just because the rest of the world happens to be celebrating at the moment. You have no obligation to fake emotions or paste a smile on your face. Granted, if you have young children, you may want to keep things normal for them, but delegate what you can and take time away if you need to cry.

Rearrange the Calendar

In later years, the memory of your loved one's death might hit you too hard to allow you to enjoy the holiday. You might need to rearrange the calendar. For example, if someone you love died on Thanksgiving and you find you cannot face the actual day, you can always choose to celebrate it on a different day. Explain your desires and reasoning to your family and friends, and the odds are quite good that they'll happily devote time to an early or late holiday.

Change Your Traditions

As time passes, you may also need to modify the way you celebrate. Certain traditions may be more painful for you than others. There's no harm in that. Then again, you may want to incorporate your loved one's memory into future celebrations—a seat left at the table, the introduction of an activity s/he loved, time spent at your loved one's grave each year.

It's possible that you'll even elect not to celebrate that particular day any longer. People will say it's not practical, but sometimes, it's simply a means of survival. Do what works for you. You have to think of your own heart and mental health first.