Any holiday can be tough, after someone we love has died. We are left with remnants of bygone memories and traditions—some worth recalling, others not so much! Of particular difficulty can be the time around Mothers/Fathers Day, when the bereaved’s view can be a twofold heartache.
Twofold in what way? This compounded mourning can be for a couple of reasons. Maybe our own parent is no longer here, or perhaps you are suffering the loss of a child, putting you into that awful, bereaved parent category. Personally, I belong to both. Not only are both my parents gone, but I also have a child in Heaven.
These mid year recognitions can really play a number on our emotions, and trigger all sorts of feelings. A walk through the grocery can conclude with us in a puddle of tears by the time we get to the car, having been pummeled with all the Hallmark paraphernalia in the aisles, screaming at us to CELEBRATE! SPEND!
This grief on Mother’s/Father’s Day is one of the most emotionally difficult and universal for all humans. When a parent dies, it shakes up the dynamics of the family for sure, even if we realize it is inevitable. If your parent was someone who was kind and supportive, that loss is immense! We become an orphan, so to speak. It can be a very lonely time for the children left behind. And if our relationship was troubled, less than ideal, we can have feelings of guilt and longing, wishing we could have made it right before they were gone.
No more calling mom about whether that chicken in the fridge is still good, and hearing the latest family news. No more reaching out to dad when the mower won’t work, and you know he has that special touch with engines!
Man, that hurts…
When a parent suffers the loss of a child, these two holidays can be nothing short of torture! If the loss was of an only child, or through miscarriage, a mom and dad need to be reassured that they are STILL their child’s parent and that they are always with them.
The ways to help someone, whether you are the parent, or your parent is gone, are pretty standard across the board, but are always worth repeating!
Here are a few thoughts:
1. Allow the person to feel all the emotions, without judgment or need to correct their thinking. I know it’s hard, but it is so helpful! Just LISTEN.
2. Offer assistance, whether it be helping with children, pets, gathering mail, playing chauffeur, setting up a meal train, clean the house, etc. The possibilities are endless, and the seemingly smallest efforts can make a terrific difference.
3. Be patient, be present, and encourage them to not rush decisions, no matter how mundane.
4. Support their physical and emotional health by suggesting walks, delivering their favorite healthier snacks, offer a drive in the country or park, gently mention therapy, or meeting with spiritual counsel.
Finally, the following website says it is for those of us missing our parents, but I think the tips can be useful across the board, no matter the relation.
And this blog post from our catalog will give us a view into these holidays, first hand, from a bereaved mama. The more we understand the hearts of those enduring grief, the more empathetic and supportive we can be!
Please reach out to FHGR for further help or if you have any questions at all. And share this article on your social media or pass on to others who are open to learning how to more effectively be present and helpful amidst the minefield of these man made holidays.