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jonsblond's avatar

How did you cope with loss and grief during birthdays and holidays?

Asked by jonsblond (36880 points ) 1 month ago

It has only been 7½ weeks since my mother passed away and tomorrow will be her birthday. I’ve already had to celebrate my birthday and my father’s birthday since she passed and that was difficult enough. I don’t know how I will cope tomorrow, especially with the lovely Facebook reminder I’ll see.

How did you spend the first birthday after the death of a loved one? This is the first time I’ve lost someone who was very close to me. I think it would help if I read how others dealt with their grief.

I do have two books I can read that will help.

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22 Answers

filmfann's avatar

On both parents birthdays, I try to watch old home movies. It is hard, but it helps.

ibstubro's avatar

I’m an agnostic, but I find comfort in the thought that people never truly cease to exist until all record of them is lost. The more vivid your thoughts ans memories of your mother, the more she continues to live on through you.

I had an aunt that I was very close too, that had been very good to me. When she passed, I’d get a stabbing pain at the sight a little gray car whizzing down the street, or a woman of a certain size with gray hair in a crowd. Finally, I learned to embrace it. To feel like she was still with me, if only through me. I’d remember the times I had run into her, and the times we’d shared, and let the sweet outweigh the bitter.

You can’t make new memories with your mother, but the memories you have with her don’t have to be painful.

I’m sorry for your loss. Everyone grieves differently, and there’s no ‘wrong’ way to grieve.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

I’m sorry for your loss. I find that two things put together makes it more tolerable for me. I set aside some time just for that person, to: remember, to cry, to laugh, to have a conversation I wish they could be there for, write a letter, etc. The other thing is I make a point of spending some special time with at least one person who is still in my life, and very special to me. It helps me to keep in mind that I’m sad without that person here, but not alone.

LDRSHIP's avatar

Have you cried?

jonsblond's avatar

Many times @LDRSHIP. The last time was today when I was spending time with my father and he started to cry. I cried too, then cried some more after he left.

antimatter's avatar

I surround myself with positive people…

Pandora's avatar

I was a teen when my father died and it was ages ago, but I either spent it alone or I went out clubbing. It was my way back then of dealing with his death. I was a wreck for months. Some days I was cheery and joking and other days alone and sullen. On days I was happy and joking around with my buddies, I did it because I would remember how much he loved to joke around. My dad was the glass is half full kind of guy. He never wanted us to be all depressed and sad. He wanted us to be happy and appreciate each day as a gift. So I wouldn’t feel guilty when I found something amusing and just rolled with it. Some days, I just missed him horribly and I just didn’t know how I was going to make it through the day without him. All of my friends had their fathers and some of them were douche bags and I resented that they got to live longer than my dad. So there were the angry days too.

I think it was at least a year before I felt normal or at least close to my old self. I found the days that was most difficult to deal with was Christmas, fathers day and the anniversary of his death. Christmas, because he always made it special, and the anniversary of his death because that is when he stop existing. His birthday wasn’t too hard because I still felt it was a day worth celebrating. In my eyes, the worlds best dad was born that day. Of course he had to have two birthdays. So I celebrated both.

I’m sorry about your mom. It will take time. Just let what ever you feel happen. It will get better.
I think the hardest thing about grief is trying to act normal when you feel destroyed inside.
Second hardest is allowing yourself to let it all out. ( You fear you won’t gain control again.)
Third is accepting that the world does go on and doesn’t seem to notice a valuable person is gone.

Cruiser's avatar

I read my dad’s eulogy I wrote…ball my eye’s out for 10 minutes…wipe away the tears and laugh at all the great times we had. Very cathartic and cleansing and allows me get on with my day.

So sorry for your loss JB

gailcalled's avatar

In the early days (or years) I simply let’er rip. Every emotion was heightened. I felt profound anguish and I let myself. The intensity came and went during the day; it was interspersed with periods of good memories and laughter and reminiscences. As the years pass, it becomes less vivid: i share the grief with a few people but they don’t feel the same as I.

. It is still sad and poignant but less intense and of shorter duration. At some point I notice that it becomes “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” In 50 years no one will remember me or my losses, i suspect. As it should be.

I rejoined a Synagogue but left after four years in spite of liking the community. I had the same issues with the formal ritual and theology that I had always had.

My family and I have set up, in one case, a memorial pocket park and rest stop along a county-long bike path. It gets a huge amount of traffic most of the year. I pay a landscaper to mow the small grassy part and trim the bushes.

I used to drive up and sit on the bench and watch the bikers, skaters, strollers, people pushing baby carriages and wheel chairs and chatting and laughing and then stopping at the little rest stop to sit on the bench or walk down the steps to the small river.

I no longer need to do that because I have the images in my mind. It has a finite lifetime, probably when the next generation in my family dies.

In another case, we established a bench with a plaque in a pleasant park-like area with pretty naturalised landscaping. It is part of a retirement community and will survive until the parts rot.

We have also set up a summer scholarship fund for 5 biologoy graduate students doing degrees in environmental science. The monies are managed by part of The Nature Conservancy and should last after I am gone, i hope.

Eventually we are all just parts of the continuum, however. .

creative1's avatar

I plan my schedule that day to be very full of activities that don’t give me a chance to even think until I get home to go to bed. I do wish them a Happy Birthday when I get up that day ad then go about my full day then when I go to bed I tell my loved one I love them and miss them very much.

janbb's avatar

I try to make plans with nurturing family or friends. Last Mother’s Day, with both kids far away and my Ex gone, I invited my nephew and niece to spend the day and go to a park.

marinelife's avatar

My Mom has not been gone yet even six months. I expect that her birthday will be hard. My sister’s birthday was hard for me for several years. She had given me a candle that she picked out on her last trip to the ocean. So I would light it on her birthday and watch the smoke ascending upward and talk to her.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I learned to value my remaining loved ones that much more and not to take anything or anyone for granted. Bad news, though, it took me 8 or 9 years to figure that out. I lost my father when I was young and I was an angry crazy young man for a lot of years. But if I had hurt anyone else, it would have made things worse. It just took time.

Juels's avatar

I’m very sorry to hear about your mom. When my grandma passed, it made us feel worse to pretend she wasn’t on our minds during Christmas. So, on her birthday (2 days later), my siblings and I got together. We ate, drank, reminisced, told funny stories, laughed and had a good cry. The hardest part was getting past our own loss and embracing the great memories and love that was shared. We used the day to celebrate all of the good things we remembered about grandma. Strangely, it was therapeutic and I left feeling like a burden had been lifted. Whenever I think of her now, I still feel the loss but I tell myself to remember at least 1 good thing. It helps. Right now, I remember curling up on her bed and watching Gigi on tv with her. I still love that movie.

Judi's avatar

When my first husband died we decided to change up the tradition. When Thanksgiving rolled around we decided to go to Disneyland. We then had dinner at Medieval Times.
My middle daughter was the one with the hardest time (she was 6) and hid her shoes before we left. Apparently, Thanksgiving would have been easier for her than Disneyland.
She finally had a breakthrough though when we were at Medieval Times. For the first time in 9 months she was having fun. She was cheering for her Knight and screaming.
When her Knight won his joust instead of throwing his flower into the crowd he leaned across and handed to to her. He had no idea what he was doing for a little wounded girl.
Now she is 31 years old and lives in the shadow of Stirling Castle in Scotland. I think it had an impact on her.

hearkat's avatar

After my ex-husband died when our son was 7, we would go to the area where he grew up near the beach and eat a meal at his favorite restaurant on his birthday and Father’s Day. Sometimes our son would write a note to his dad and put it in the Atlantic Ocean. Now that he’s a young adult, I will occasionally ask as those dates approach, but it’s been a while since he’s felt the need to do anything special on those days.

zenvelo's avatar

It’s sad. especially the first few times. My dad’s birthday was 6 weeks after he died, and my kids and I went and visited my mom, and took her to where his ashes are stored. We all had a good cry and lots of hugs.

What helped me on special days after that was remembering previous happy celebrations with the person, and knowing they would want me to be celebrating the day. My grandfather dies in 1985, yet every April on his birthday, I have strawberry shortcake in his memory and tell my kids about how he used to enjoy it.

For me it’s a matter of remembering them when they were happy and savoring life.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I really like how so many jellies have taken something that sucks and turned it into something positive.

SwanSwanHummingbird's avatar

I let myself feel the loss, cry and do what I have to to maintain my composure.

It hurts less as the years go by, but that feeling of loss will never go away.

LDRSHIP's avatar

@jonsblond That is good. Best thing is to let it out in most cases. I can’t really remember the last time I cried over someone. Although I have had the urge of being under stress and feeling of emptiness. Feeling like I can’t change or save anyone.

I guess you could consider the good part. That least you have family you love and had a relationship that it means something to you. I have hardly any family and most is destroyed and broken relationships and at this point in my life I have no concern to put effort into that aspect of my life. I’m moving forward(trying to), but it is also extremely lonely when you can’t turn to your parents or other family and my siblings are younger. There is no deep relationship of love and care, and it also created a point of where I never want to create friends where I would tell them that or create a friendship that deep. Just be an acquaintance to me nothing more.

Maybe that makes me cold and so I don’t have to worry about it. In a way it’s easier and harder. Than again better to have loved and lost than never loved at all the saying goes. Oh well, it is what it is for me….Least you can said you had it.

jonsblond's avatar

I’m sorry I have not responded to each of your answers but I do want you all to know that I took the time yesterday to read every response. I visited this question throughout the day and your answers were very helpful. I’m still a bit of a mess emotionally today and I’m usually at a loss for words when I’m like this. I just want you all to know how much I appreciate the time you took to answer my question.

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