Summering Grief

Summering Grief by Melissa Waugh MS, Grief Support Specialist

Summer can be a favorite season of the year for many, with more daylight and warm weather. Many talk about how they look forward to this time of the year, when they have more energy to get out and do things. But Summer may no longer be as exciting if your loved one is no longer with you.

There are also the “firsts” that may happen during this time of the year. Memorial Day may trigger grief emotions. A recent widower said this was not a major holiday for him, but he realized how many people were celebrating the three day weekend. Having an extra day without plans can increase the sense of being alone. It helps if you can plan ahead and have something to do. It may be reading a book, taking a walk, visiting with a neighbor or taking a short drive.

Independence Day can be a time when families celebrate with a family reunion or gathering. For the newly bereaved it can also be the first time you have seen your extended family and friends since your loved one died. If you are attending a large gathering alone for the first time, you might want to plan ahead to bring a friend. Feel free to give yourself permission to leave early if you get too tired or overwhelmed. One young widow made sure she thanked her hosts when she arrived at gatherings so she could leave early if needed. She decided to drive herself to events during her first year so she could leave when needed.

Summer may also mean vacation time and traveling. If you and your loved one used to travel at this time of the year, you may find it hard to travel. Traveling alone to visit friends and family can lead to feelings of loneliness. This may be the first time you have ever traveled solo. It’s normal for these feelings to arise, so find ways to help support yourself. Writing down your emotions, talking with someone you trust and planning ahead to take short breaks when traveling can be helpful. If you find this year you can’t travel due to finances or it is too hard to do alone, find ways to spend with friends that are nearby. Plan mini- vacations where you can do something with a friend that you normally would not do, like take a class, visit a museum or go to a park.

Your first summers without your loved one can be a challenge. Remember to take care of yourself. Reach out to friends, family and community that are supportive to you in your grief. Remember that the intensity of your emotions you feel will begin to lessen as you create new memories.

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