This blog is somewhat bitter sweet having loss my mother just days before Easter, and it being the two year anniversary of the passing of my father seven years later and also during the month of April. So I can relate or at least understand those who may have mixed feelings about Easter approaching. Because this is the first year without your loved one, some may find it very difficult celebrating life and resurrection on Easter when you may be still grieving over the loss of your dear love one. Like all other holidays a flood gate of memories and emotions concerning your love one who is no longer with us takes over and you may find yourself struggling to look ahead and celebrate. Some may feel angry or resentment towards family members and friends because they are celebrating and/or seem to have moved on yet for some reason you may feel they are at fault because of your inability to move past your grief. Although Easter holds the theme of death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, where his death signifying his dying for our sins should give you hope, yet for many it may in fact trigger feelings of sadness and depression. Unlike most holidays, Easter does not fall on a set date each year, instead Easter does not come on the same date each year. It’s what many may describe as a floating holiday because it comes at different times each year, and because it does, it is difficult to really plan how you will maneuver through in advance leaving you open to depression sneaking up un-expectant times. If any of the above describes what you may be experiencing, you can agree that April showers really do bring May flowers, but may I offer you good news in knowing you are not alone, what you are feeling is quite normal, and there are seven ways to still celebrate life during Easter when you are grieving over a life loss.
1. Always, always ask for help from family and close friends. Especially if you have small or young children. Kids in most cases will still want to partake in Easter activities. If you are feeling a little down, getting help with the children coloring eggs or letting a friend or family member chaperone the kids to a Easter egg hunt or help them practice their Easter speeches is not a bad idea. Delegating this to someone else will create much needed private time refocus.
2. No one is ever excited to accept change. However, like other life experiences change is inevitable. Therefore, accepting change that you will have to do things differently this year is key to moving forward. Be open to creating a new family tradition, modify old family traditions, or be rid of those traditions. In my book, When The Bough Breaks in Chapter 8 titled Throwing the Family a Lifeline: Resurrection Day I speak about this very thing. I used the family traditions during that time to honor my mother. I took what she use to do and made it bigger and better. Some family members still resented me for it, but most loved it and together we still had a great time. But, if you still decide to avoid the festivities by choosing to sleep through it all, this too is a normal reaction and is still okay.
3. Some cultures have frowned against professional help from a counselor and/or therapist. There are even some who are old fashion and believe that you should not discuss what’s going on in your home or personal life with outside sources. Whatever your belief, if you feel your grief is becoming overwhelming or you are thinking of suicide, please get support from a professional immediately. Talking with a licensed counselor, therapist, and/or religious leader is critical to moving forward when you are grieving. Whomever you choose to open up to it’s also important that there is some feeling of connection, and/or trust so you are able to communicate openly and truthfully about what you are thinking and feeling without judgement. Your ability to move forward depends on it.
4. Self-care is of the upmost importance eating a balance meal, getting proper exercise, and rest is vital. Doing things that bring you comfort can help improve you mentally and physically. Taking time from stress is always beneficial. Take leave from work and plan something relaxing where you can get plenty of much needed rest. Whatever you decide to plan, let it be something fun with the family and/or friends that will help you realize and appreciate how blessed you still are.
5. Renew and/or strengthen your faith. Get active or become more active in church and church activities. It’s just something about being in the Lord’s house, reading, and hearing his word that heals a broken heart and feeds the soul. If you hadn’t been to church in a while, I challenge you to start back. I am confident you will begin to feel better which will ultimately increase your faith, hope, and overall look on where your life is today. In the meantime read Psalm 34:18, 73:26, and Matthew 5:4 these are scripture verses on mourning.
6. Be mindful of the emotional triggers leading up to Easter and plan some quiet time to feel what you feel and/or plan activities that will distract you from long bouts of feeling great sadness. Whatever you plan, don’t do it alone ask your family and friends to join you. Spending too much or long periods of alone grieving can potentially send your thoughts into very dark and depressing places where thoughts of suicide become present.
7. Your family member never wanted you to spend the rest of your days grieving over them. They want you living a vibrant and exciting life achieving all the wonderful things they prayed you would. So, tip number seven is to do what you are trying so desperately to avoid. Celebrate life! Jesus died for yours and my sin, and rose on the third day. Live your life like you know he rose and is alive. Easter is the perfect time to plan an activity in remembrance of your loved one. I’ve mentioned in previous blogs and talked about gardening in the book. Planting a tree in your loved one’s memory is a beautiful jester. Even better planting a memory garden and ask family members and friends to bring a flower, tree, or shrub to plant in a corner of your yard to honor your love one. To make it more special add a bench or a water fountain to make it the perfect place in your yard to commemorate your family member’s memory. Everyone will love this idea creating the perfect jester to honoring your love one and a beautiful in your yard to can visit.
The bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NLT, “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” More good news is Jesus shed his blood, died, and rose so that we may live. Because of that we have the promise of living with him forever if we believe. Every person experience with grief is different, but some of the above recommendations may get you back to living, laughing, and loving as you face a very new tomorrow. I encourage you to not walk alone. Take the Lord with you. I can’t wait to see you smile again. Wishing you God’s blessings on your journey.