One of the most bittersweet times of life is celebrating holidays & birthdays after having lost a loved one. Holidays and birthdays are meant to be joyful occasions but that all changes for some people when theyve lost a loved one. For most, holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are a time to celebrate life, health, and another year of life. But some that have lost loved ones can find it hard to celebrate without their loved one.
Depressed and Dysfunctional
When the holidays and birthdays arrive, most people are reminded of the good times had in past birthday and holiday celebrations. But for many, birthday and holiday memories can bring on depression when a parent, a spouse, a child, a sibling, or a close friend has passed away. For some, the depression can be serious enough to cause them to become dysfunctional. They lose the motivation to go on with life. Ironically this is like two lives lost. So what can you do to avoid this kind of depression and celebrate the memory of deceased loved ones during birthdays and holidays?
Dont Dwell on Loss
Leave the photo albums on the shelf if the pictures in them bring you down. But if you can smile and laugh about the pictures, enjoy them as much as you like. Dwelling on the loss of a loved one causes you to internalize. Im sure some people just want to go into a place and close the door and not have to deal with the outside again. Internalizing thoughts and feelings makes the world a very small and lonely place. The emotional pain can be terrible but in some cases thats because the joy of the life shared was so good. Joy and pain are trade offs of our relationships. We cant experience the joy of life if we internalize and hide from the world. Is this what our loved ones would want? I dont think so. So what can we do to honor their hopes for us?
Honor Your Loved One
Its not always easy or possible to celebrate the time you had after losing a loved one. Who can answer why newborns die crib deaths? Doesnt life seem crazy when a teenager dies in a car crash the night of their high school graduations? Those lives seem all too short. But if you dont get the time that you had hoped for to enjoy these lives, you can make their live count for something. Some parents have done this by creating funds for research into the diseases that took their children. Sometimes these parents also become spokespersons for causes surrounding the death of their loved one.
More Ways to Celebrate
- Organize a bike ride – (In honor of biker)
- Rescue a pet – (in honor of a pet lover)
- Volunteer at a literacy association – (In honor of a person that loved reading)
- Start a support group – (To raise awareness & money for research & for needy families
Celebrate the Time You Had
How would your loved one want you to live after theyve passed away? I would be very surprised if they would want you alone and depressed over your loss. Maybe a better question is how would you want your survivors to observe your birthday and holidays after youve passed away? That may be morbid but I think the question can help change lives if received in the spirit its intended. One of my friends has a birthday party for Jesus every Christmas. She invites family and friends to celebrate the life and death of Jesus Christ, of whom she calls her savior. Maybe you could do something like this to honor the life of a deceased loved one. The memories dont have to hurt if you decide to celebrate instead. So can you think of a way to honor your deceased loved one in a way that would make them proud and make you happy about what youve done?
In memory of my mother, Queen Elizabeth Mars, March 21, 1919 May 13, 2009.