Grieving a Loved One on Special Occasions

Posted on May 5, 2021

holding a flowerSpecial occasions, such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or birthdays, are typically a time of celebration. But when you are grieving a loved one, those holidays can be bittersweet. While they can bring up cherished memories, they can also evoke sadness, loneliness, and despair. On these days, perhaps you’d like to participate in an activity to remember your loved one, or maybe you’d prefer to take a day to tune out from the world. Whatever you choose, know that there is no one “right” way to grieve. Whether you feel like laying low or celebrating big, we have some ideas and advice for how to spend these special occasions as you continue to grieve your loved one. 

Give Yourself Permission to Do Nothing
Some holidays can be particularly tough, such as the anniversary of your loved one’s death. On these days when you are feeling especially low, give yourself permission to do nothing. Simply giving yourself space to cope with your emotions is a great option for tending to your grief. You could plan a self-care day for yourself, curling up with a good book, practicing yoga, or doing your favorite hobby. You might choose to absorb yourself in a constructive activity, like meal prepping or preparing your spring garden. Of course, you could choose to have your favorite music, or this Ultimate Grief Playlist playing while you do any of these activities. 

Plan a Special Ritual or Activity to Remember Them
While these special occasions may be challenging,they can also be a beautiful time to remember good times that you shared with your friend or family member. photo albumIf you would like to spend time remembering and honoring your loved one who has passed away, there are a number of ways to do so. You could go through old photographs, or light a memorial candle for them. Another fun idea that doesn’t take too much effort is to have a movie marathon watching your loved one’s favorite films. If you’re feeling up for it, you could do something that your family member or friend used to love, such as attending their favorite play, cheering on their beloved sports team, or visiting their favorite park. You might also choose to volunteer your time to an organization that was close to your loved one’s heart.

Think About Who You’d Like to Spend the Day With You respect and honor
Whether you choose to stay home and take it easy, or go out and do something more active, think about who you would like to spend this special occasion with you. Maybe you would prefer to be alone to have time to process your grief. Maybe you would prefer to be surrounded by siblings or friends who also knew your loved one well. Again, there is no right answer. Respect and honor how you feel, and do what you believe will be best for you.

For more ideas and guidance about grieving during these special occasions, here are some great articles to get started:
- Remembering Loved Ones on Holidays, Anniversaries and Special Days
- 10 Ideas To Mark Your Loved One’s Death Anniversary


What’s Your Grief also offers an affordable self-paced course, Managing Grief on Holidays and Special Days, that you might want to explore. Here's a brief video introduction to their course.


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