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.

_____14. Anniversary

_____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.

Bob Baugher

Bob Baugher, Ph.D., is a Psychology Instructor at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Washington where he teaches courses in Psychology and Death Education. As a trainer for LivingWorks he has trained more than 1,000 people in suicide intervention. He has given more than 600 workshops on grief and loss across the U.S. including England, South Africa, and Namibia. As a professional advisor to the South King County Chapter of The Compassionate Friends, Bob has been invited to speak at many of the TCF national conferences during the past 20 years. He earned a certificate in Thanatology from the Association for Death Education and Counseling and in the 1990s he was a clinician with University of Washington School of Nursing Parent Bereavement Project. Bob has written several articles and seven books on the bereavement process. Reach him at b_kbaugher@yahoo.com. Dr. Baugher appeared on the radio show "Healing the Grieving Heart" with Dr. Gloria & Dr. Heidi Horsley to discuss Coping with Anger and Guilt After a Loss.

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