The idea of summer usually brings pictures of sunshine, vacations, and fun, but for those who are grieving, summer can feel different and even depressing. Many families have shared with us here at The WARM Place that summer seems to intensify their grief. The activities they used to look forward to now have an element of sadness as their loved one is no longer there to enjoy summer with them. Holidays like Father’s Day and Fourth of July can serve as reminders of the loss.
With the absence of a school schedule, children and families may have more time to think about their grief, and feel more overwhelmed by it. Social media reminds us daily that those around us “appear” to be having fun, while the things we may have looked forward to before the death, now seem meaningless.
Here are a few tips to help you survive summer grief:
- Take time to talk to your family about your hopes for the summer. Ask your children what they hope to do this summer. It may be something totally different than you expect. Make a list of these hopes for the summer.
- Talk about how you want to remember your loved one this summer. Did he or she have a favorite summertime activity? A favorite restaurant or meal? A favorite place to visit? How do you want to keep his or her memory alive?
- It’s okay to take a break from regular summertime routines or to alter your summer plans. If you don’t feel up to taking a vacation, that’s okay. Take care of yourself and do what is best for your family.
- Others around you want to help, but are not sure how. Let them know what they can do to support you in your grief journey.
- Let your children know it’s okay to have fun. Oftentimes kids may feel guilty if they have fun when their parent is sad, or they are grieving. Let them know having fun is still a good thing.
- Find different ways to create new summer memories together. After a death, we have to adjust to a ‘new normal.’ Sometimes it’s helpful to create new traditions as a family to help fill in some of the things you may feel are missing.
- Get professional help if you need it. If it feels like more than you can bear, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or seek a grief counselor.
- Remember that you are not alone. Find a support group and connect with others who have experienced a loss. It may seem overwhelming to sit with others, but sometimes a simple “me, too” can make a huge difference.
As you survive summer, take time to care for yourself and reach out to those around you.