FOR THE BEREAVED: Feeling autumnal blues not a step back

For many, this Thanksgiving was the first holiday weekend celebration where someone important in our life is missing.

For many, this Thanksgiving was the first holiday weekend celebration where someone important in our life is missing.

Thanksgiving seems to be the start of the yearly holiday season, a prelude to Christmas if you will, and as such, is a first in the season’s lineup of holidays that could be viewed as something to endure instead of something to look forward to.

With this “first,” fresh feelings of loss and grief may be brought to the forefront once again. In summer, the weather is warm and there are lots of things to keep our minds occupied.

There are people to see, it stays light out much longer, we may begin to heal or at least begin feel a little more optimistic.

Then autumn comes, and with it, the first big traditional event where families gather, friends meet and there are three long days to contend with. It gets dark earlier and things are closing or slowing for the winter season.

We know that grey cloudy skies can make for gloomy moods and even for those not on an active grief journey, it can seem a bit depressing over a period of days and weeks.

So for those grieving, all this put together – the change in seasons, temperature and the lessening amount of daylight hours – can seem like a step back in the grief journey.

Feelings you may have thought you dealt with may seem to be occupying your mind again and you may be feeling very alone.

It is natural to long for a loved one who has passed, especially on holidays, but it does not mean you are moving backwards.

Grief has its own cycles and often we repeat steps for a short time when something triggers this sense of loss in us. It doesn’t mean you are losing ground and will never heal. It is part of a process and we all process our loss the same, yet so differently and individually.

To help deal with these emotions, if you can, try to find something you can do to honour your loss loved one.

For me, well, I talk out loud to my lost loved ones like they can hear me.

I know for some this seems ridiculous to do but it helps me feel connected to them again.

I have my own tradition of setting my red plate on the dinner table for the “firsts” for our lost loved ones. Find something you can do yourself.

Let a balloon loose, write your loved one a letter and keep it in your drawer or light a candle – it doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you.

– Barbara Bleiler is a certified funeral celebrant and advertising representative for the Grand Forks Gazette