The first year without a loved one can be a painful and often stressful time, as we question what our new normal is now. Here are our tips on how to cope during this difficult time, and some personal experiences from the co-founders of Live On.
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As time continues to tick by after a loved one has passed, it’s difficult to understand what your new normal is. During times of grief, we are often thrown into an uncertain world of questions as we try to understand our emotions and the support we need. This era of questioning becomes more apparent during calendar events such as Christmas, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and birthdays. Events that were once highly anticipated and full of joy can begin to feel empty, as we mourn the missing of a loved one.
For those of us going through our first year without a loved one, knowing how to structure your day and what to do to ensure mental wellbeing is unchartered territory.
Our co-founders talk through their personal experiences which happened during their first year:
Amy – “The first year was definitely difficult. We all had mixed ideas about what to do and where to go, which often lead to some disagreement. Together we talked about adjusting specific celebrations such as Father’s Day and birthdays to be a more commemorative event. During these times, we could eat the persons favourite food, do an activity they liked or visit a place that reminded us of them. This helped us bond as a family and made us feel closer to the person that passed. Christmas and other less person specific days however are treated differently. On these celebratory events we buy flowers and write letters to the person that has passed. Though the day and it’s usual schedule carries on, there is a sense of loss but we still make time to remember the person who has passed.”
Gloria – “The first year of bereavement I think is the hardest. There are many things you had not considered as issues before which now are. Daily activities, going shopping, cooking, meeting family or friends, even seeing other children on Mother’s day or Father’s day celebrating with their parents, can make the first year hard. Overcoming these daily obstacles are things we don’t consider when we think of grieving.
Holidays were difficult but for me the daily challenges were constant. I think starting that conversation or simply acknowledging that this grieving is going to be a process really helped me to see what could be done for others in a similar position to me. Grieving doesn’t have to end when someone says it should. It is your journey and you should have the freedom to grieve in your own way.“
We highly recommend discussing your emotions with close family members or friends during the first year of bereavement, but understand this can be a difficult task to undertake. If you are finding the topic of loss difficult to verbalise, we recommend using online discussion groups and adjusting the focus of your conversation when speaking to other people. Starting off conversations about calendar events or other special occasions could begin with the sentence or focus of “How can we remember the person during this special time?”
You are under no obligation to stick to routine, it’s okay to change it up. You can adjust how you celebrate by visiting friends, doing some art or other activities that makes you feel comfortable. This could even include simply going out for coffee and reading a book. The first year is hard and unknown, even though we highly recommend talking to someone it is also understandable if you wish to be alone, giving yourself personal time to grieve. This is your grieving journey. The pace in which you choose to grief needs to feel right for you, regardless of how others around you are also grieving.
Visit our Helpful Websites page for links to helplines and other centres. There’s no shame in asking for help.