Helping you get through tough times

Managing special occasions

Special occasions and events in your life can be difficult when someone has died. The fact that that person isn’t there with you at big moments can feel really strange.

It can make even the happiest occasion a bit sad.

Christmas decorationsThere are some ways to make these times a bit easier.

Coping with Christmas after someone dies

If you’ve lost someone close to you, Christmas can be a time when you feel their absence more than normal.

It’s probably a time you’re used to spending with them. There might well  be little things that remind you of them.

For someone important to be missing from the festivities or even the dinner table can be really hard, especially the first year.

Birthdays and anniversaries after losing someone you love

Just like Christmas, birthdays or other important days can be challenging when you’ve lost someone you love.

It’s natural to feel they should be there to celebrate with you. Their own birthdays or anniversaries can be especially sad, because you’re reminded of just how much you miss them.

Take care of yourself and each other on these days. See when someone dies for an introduction to coping with grief.

Plan for the day

If there’s an anniversary coming up, plan ahead for it. Talk with your family and friends about the best way to remember your loved one.

If there’s a big day in your own life up ahead, like a graduation or a birthday, it can be really nice to include a few minutes in the day to remember the people who aren’t there.

Let yourself be sad

It’s normal to feel sad when someone you love isn’t there for Christmas or a special occasion, so don’t be hard on yourself.

It can help to take some time out to remember them. Everyone’s different and will have a different way of doing that, but here are some ideas:

  • find a quiet place to remember all the good things about the person
  • do something that you used to do together
  • write them a letter telling them about the day
  • revisit somewhere you used to go together
  • tell stories with each other about your favourite times with them.

Don’t forget it’s OK to enjoy yourself too and this doesn’t mean you don’t miss the person you’ve lost. See moving back into your routines for more.

Look after yourself

Remembering this might be a tough time is important. You have to treat yourself with a bit of care.

Avoid making major decisions until after the occasion is over. If possible, treat yourself to something you enjoy doing.

Go see a film, play some football, exercise or just hang out with your friends. See relaxation for more.

Avoid bottling stuff up

Keeping things to yourself means the tension builds up inside you. Finding a way to express what you’re feeling really can help you to feel better.

You could talk to someone, write your thoughts down, draw, or punch some pillows.

Talk to someone

Having someone you trust to talk to about how you’re feeling is helpful. This may be a family member, friend or youth worker.

If you’re finding it hard to cope with day-to-day stuff then it may help to talk to someone like a counsellor. See face-to-face help for more.

More information

Counsellors in your local area should be able to help if you need more information.

Your local Community Health Centre can put you in touch with a counselling service, try your local phone book or check the Counselling Directory or

If you need to talk to someone straight away, you can call Samaritans Ireland and someone will be there to listen and help.

Check when someone dies for a list of useful websites that can help you manage your grief.

This article was last reviewed on 01 December 2017

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