The BIG Grief Days (and making it through)

Grief finds us anywhere and in all the ordinary ways. But there are days where it can seem to mount and build into something daunting and dreaded. These are the BIG Grief days – the ones we can anticipate – birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.

With Mother’s Day behind us and Father’s Day coming, we are in the midst of some BIG, shared, grief days.

I’ve been so touched by the inclusion of bereaved people that has started to make its way through Mother’s and Father’s Day. More and more social media posts honor and name those who may be grieving their parents or their child/children. This public acknowledgment links grief to these special days which, in my mind, makes them all the more special. Death brings about a perspective like no other.

As we continue to make way for Mother’s and Father’s Days that aren’t “happy” we make room for reality, the preciousness of time, and whatever your experience of these days may be.

Here are some ways to navigate the BIG grief days and others specific to your loved one like their birthday or death-day:
  • Make a tribute
    o Public: Many people are now sharing pictures of their loved ones with a special tribute on their social media. It’s a way of publicly acknowledging their loss, honoring their loved one, and normalizing grief. These posts are almost always helpful to others. When we acknowledge grief we create safe spaces for others to mourn.
    o Private: Take time to type or write out some memories or key words that come to mind when you think of your loved one. If you’re among friends, make a toast.
  • Put up Photos
    o Find special photos of your loved one and put them up for these grief days. You can decorate a wall or put a few in special spots in your home. The trick with this is giving yourself permission to put them away. I put photos up for the birthdays in our home and feel comfortable putting them away within the week or month of the special day. You don’t need to make your home a lasting shrine, but you can make it special and significant on the days when it feels right.
  • Do something in their memory
    o This can be so simple – visiting a familiar place, playing a beloved board game, eating a favorite food, making a donation, sharing a kind word. There are endlessly unique ways we can honor the lives of our loved ones.

I know that for myself, simply doing nothing is almost never helpful. Our grief craves an outlet that requires us to act in some way. When we can get it out, write it out, say it out loud, share it, cook with it or simply open ourselves up to it – we are interacting with love on the flip side of all we wanted and had. These BIG grief days aren’t easy but you will make it to the other side.

Be gentle to yourself,

honor them in your own way,

what you are doing and feeling matters.



Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Molly grew up in and around funeral homes her entire life. In 2009 she began working for O'Connor Mortuary and found a bridge between her passion for writing and her interest in grief and bereavement. In 2016 she earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. She is honored to be able to write about these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective.

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