DARKE COUNTY - While holidays devoted to family members are often a time of thoughtful reflection and celebration for many people, the occasions can be difficult for those who have recently experienced a loss.
And because Mother’s Day is designed to honor the joy and sacrifices of motherhood, it can be especially difficult for parents who have lost their children, or siblings who are missing the guidance of a recently deceased parent.
“I often hear from our clients that the loss of a child is the most painful loss you can experience,” said Meredith Carpe, State of the Heart Hospice Social Worker/Bereavement Specialist.
Holidays can often magnify family’s’s sense of loss and mourning, and can serve as constant reminders of a tragic event or life change. In fact according to statistics from the National Mental Health Association, around 8 million people suffer the death of someone in their immediate family each year, making it likely that the meaning of holidays will often undergo changes.
Special holiday traditions can often tug at memories, especially if family members looked forward to those activities each year. During this time, those who have experienced a loss often struggle with questions like if they’d prefer to be around others, if it’s proper to express grief after a certain time period or even if they have the right to be happy or sad during these times.
According to Carpe, those questions are all normal and part of the grieving process.
“Holidays are particularly hard for grieving families,” said Carpe. “Losing a loved one means losing a part of your holiday traditions too. Sometimes people choose to eat their loved ones favorite food that day or watch their favorite movie to honor them.”
Years later, holidays still may trigger feelings of absence and regret, so it’s especially important for families to have a plan in place that emphasizes positive coping practices and perhaps having friends and supportive relations nearby.
“It’s important to have a support system of people who will allow you to talk openly about the loss,” said Carpe. “The more you talk about it the more you get used to it. You never get ‘over’ it but you become reconciled to a new lifestyle.”
While the grieving process is unique to everyone, counselors do recommend certain coping techniques such as surrounding yourself with friends and family, joining a support group, taking time to reflect upon your situation, and ultimately to accept whatever works best for you.
State of the Heart Hospice offers support groups throughout the year for a wide variety of ages and grieving needs, and readers can call 937-548-2999 and ask to speak to a bereavement specialist for more information.