When holidays don't feel like celebrations​

In the days leading up to Mother’s Day, we sent the following invitation to Chai Lifeline Canada families who had recently experienced the loss of a loved one.

“Ahoy Mateys! Mother’s Day can be fraught with conflicting emotions when you are missing a dear family member.
This Mother’s Day, join us for a fun filled Pirate Ship adventure and share some smiles with other Chai families who understand. The ship will set sail at 1:30. We hope to see you there.”

It was this coming together that inspired this blog post.

For many families, days like Mother’s Day and Father’s day are times of celebration. For those who have experienced the loss of a parent or spouse, even the anticipation of such a day can bring on feelings of loneliness and difficult emotions. At Chai Lifeline Canada, we prepare families to approach the day and acknowledge their grief in their own way. 

Our Family Services team offers support and tips to families who could use some extra care when holidays don’t feel like celebrations. 

Some suggestions include holding memorials, which can help manage grief and sadness with physical symbols of a loved one’s continued presence. Also, surrounding yourself with the presence of friends and family members can help to alleviate the pain on these holidays. 

It is recommended to try and unplug for the day and replace social media scrolling with other activities such as:

  • Donating to a charity in your loved ones’ name or volunteering on their behalf
  • Visiting the cemetery of your loved one
  • Planting a tree or memorial garden
  • Creating a memory book
  • Participating in an activity that was meaningful to them i.e. Hiking, a bike ride, volunteering at a soup kitchen etc. 
  • Cooking their favorite foods, listening to their favorite music
  • Having dinner with friends 
  • Seeing a movie with family members
  • Finding a bereavement group meeting to attend on the day
  • Sharing stories about your parents
  • Sending a card or spend time with other loved ones in your life
  • Watching home videos. It can be very powerful to hear the voice of someone who has passed away.  

If you have a friend or have someone in your community who has experienced a loss and you want to help support them, send a text or card or call to let them know you are thinking of them. It might not seem like much, but reminding them that they are not alone can make all the difference in their day. Try to share specific memories, photos, or stories that you have of their loved one. Reminiscing allows the bereaved to appreciate the impact their loved one had.

Grief is a very individual experience. Holidays and milestones affect people differently, and some are more affected by these ‘big’ days than others. It’s important to remember that there is no how or when
you should be grieving. The ideas shared here can help navigate difficult days.