Dealing with first times after a bereavement

February 11, 2022

Significant days, such as birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day, can be difficult to celebrate after losing a loved one, especially if it is the first one since their passing.

Tackling those big first times since you lost someone can be an upsetting and painful reminder of your loss and that things will never be the same.

It is important to remember that it is normal to feel that way, but you should not feel guilty for celebrating without them.

There are healthy ways you can process your grief, and commemorate that special person.

Prepare yourself

You may think that the easiest way to deal with first times is to just ignore them, but suppressing your feelings or avoiding events, or doing things is not healthy and often not realistic.

Instead, consciously acknowledge that something is coming up or that you need to do something. This will help you to prepare for what is to come and help you to feel more in control of your emotions.

Bear in mind that everyone grieves differently. You may feel sad or you may not. Do not worry and do not feel guilty if you feel okay.

Mark the occasion

It is entirely up to you whether you want to include your lost loved one in your celebrations. If you do, there are many ways you can remember them which can help you to channel your grief.

You could light a candle in their memory, read a poem, or write a letter. Putting your thoughts and feelings down on paper can help you to get them off your chest and process them.

You could also create a memory box, scrapbook, or album filled with photos and keepsakes, and continue to add to it over the years to come. If you are happy to, you could also share this with others on special occasions and reminisce with them.

Help those grieving

If you are someone that has a friend who is grieving and going through these difficult first times, reach out to them. They may turn down your offer to help, but just reassure them that you are there for them.

You should not push them or offer unsolicited advice. The best thing you can do is let them talk and just listen without judgment.

Do not worry about saying the wrong thing or making them more upset. It is often worse to say nothing at all as this can make them feel isolated and alone and like people do not care.

Share your memories of the person who died and any photos or videos you have of them. Your friend may not have heard these stories or seen these photos or videos before, and will likely appreciate hearing and seeing a new side to them.

Ask for help

However, you grieve and deal with these inevitable first times is completely up to you and will be different for everyone. Remember that there is no certain way to feel or behave, so try not to put too much pressure on yourself.

Although grief is a natural process, for most people it can be devastating. Whether it has been days, months, or years since you lost someone, it is okay to ask for help if you are ever finding it hard to cope.

Whenever you feel like you need additional support, reach out to your friends and family, or call the Cruse bereavement helpline on 0808 808 1677 to speak to a trained volunteer.