If you are like most bereaved people, thinking about the future without your loved one is not pleasant. In thinking about the next year, some people shake their head saying, “I don’t want to go there. It’s too difficult to even imagine.”
Perhaps this is an article you’d rather not read. I’m writing it because—and I think you’ll agree—making plans when dealing with a difficult issue is usually better than just letting it happen.
As you can see with the lists below, I’ve put together holidays in one column with a number of suggestions in the other. The suggestions are from bereaved parents, siblings, grandparents, spouses and those who’ve lost parents in response to my question, “What did you do on special days to acknowledge your love one?”
If you’d like, make a copy of this article, look over the suggestions, and place a letter or more in the column of holidays on the left to indicate what you might do on that day. If the list seems overwhelming, just put it aside and perhaps return to it later.
After you finish, consider sharing your results with family members and ask what he or she would like to do. Whatever you select from this list, choose those activities you feel may give you some comfort.
|_____1. New Year’s Day||A. Look at pictures or video and share memories
B. Visit a special place such as the cemetery or a place with special memories of my loved one.
|_____2. My loved one’s birthday||C. Send off balloons
D. Write a letter to my loved one
|_____3. My birthday||E. Set a place for this person at the dinner table. Include a picture.
F. Watch a favorite movie of my loved one
|_____4. The date of the death||G. Do volunteer work with my loved one in mind
H. Light a candle to burn all day
|_____5. Valentine’s Day||I. Fix a special meal or dessert
J. Plant a tree, a bush or a flower
|_____6. Religious Holiday||K. Listen to or sing a favorite song
L. Smell something that elicits fond memories
|_____7. Mother’s Day||M. Tell stories of my loved one
N. Create an ornament that can be hung on the wall or on a tree
|_____8. Memorial Day||O. Buy a special gift and give it away
P. Read a special book or poem
|_____9. Father’s Day||Q. Go to a place where I can shout my loved one’s name as loudly as I want and say, “I LOVE YOU!”
R. Say a prayer
|_____10. July 4th||S. Consider something I’m ready to let go of such as anger or guilt. Build a fire, find a pinecone, and toss it into the fire as a way to begin to “burn up” and “release” my anger or guilt.|
|_____11. Halloween||T. During a walk find a rock that symbolizes my love for this person|
|_____12. Thanksgiving||U. Write a list of all things I am thankful for having had this person in my life.
V. Write a poem, draw a picture, or write a story about how I feel.
|_____13. Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa||W. Using my loved one’s clothing, make a quilt.
X. Go out to dinner.
_____15. Another special day
|Y. Create a slide show or scrap book of memories of my love one
Z. Another thing I can do
Bob Baugher, Ph.D., can be reached through his website, www.bobbaugher.com.