How to support yourself during the summer holidays after a bereavement
July 25, 2023
Summer holidays can be a challenging time if you’ve been bereaved of a loved one. You lose the normality and routine that school offers and friends might not be around, which may result in lots of big, jumbled feelings. Here are three top tips for supporting yourself during the summer holidays:
Strike a balance of remembering the loved one and making new memories
Whilst it is important to remember your loved one, it is also important to create new memories too. You can provide yourself with opportunities to feel connected to your loved one, at a time when you may really miss them; you may want to share stories, look at photos or ask yourself if there is anything you’d like to do during the summer holidays to remember them.
If the bereavement is recent, you might not feel ready to do those things this summer, which is fine too. The key thing is open communication; if others in your family want to go somewhere that you’re not ready to face just yet, talk about it with them – sharing these thoughts helps everyone know where each other is at, and what you each of you needs to get through this time.
If you do feel like you’re ready, another lovely idea is to think about some of the things your loved one enjoyed. For example, you may want to cook their favourite dish in their honour, or visit a place that was special to them.
Remember that it’s ok to have fun and create new, happy memories! Give yourself permission to feel joy, without guilt. Engaging in meaningful and enjoyable activities leads to you feeling happier and getting more out of life.
Remember all of your feelings are valid
It is super important that we remember all of our feelings are valid. This includes but is not limited to feeling happy, sad, worried, angry, scared and confused (check out our other post about emotions and feelings!). These are normal ways to feel after a loss and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Once you’ve identified how you’re feeling, try and meet the need of your emotion. What do you need right now? Perhaps it’s someone to talk to, a big hug or a good cry?
Feelings need to be heard, seen and worked through. Expressing your feelings is crucial and can often make a huge difference. Sometimes we just need someone to listen because things are weighing us down, and that’s ok – there’s a famous quote, “If you’re not sharing it, you’re storing it” and that rings very true. Reach out to a family member, close friend or us at Hope if you would like to talk through your thoughts and feelings.
Look after yourself
There are different ways you can look after yourself during the summer holidays.
The first way is to get active; exercise releases our happiness hormones and naturally boosts our mood. It may be that you go for a walk in the park, play a game of badminton with a friend, go cycling or attend a gym class – although it may feel like the last thing you want to do, the positive feelings afterwards make it worthwhile.
Secondly, meditation is a powerful way of helping calm your mind. Meditation exercises are a brilliant way of bringing calm, clarity and contentment to your day. It can help lower stress levels whilst enhancing your wellbeing.
The third way you can look after yourself is to take the time to rest. Did you know there are seven (yes, seven!) types of rest we need?! These are: physical, sensory, emotional, spiritual, mental, creative and social rest. To be fully rested, we need to ensure we are getting a good night’s sleep (physical), we are taking time to unplug from technology (sensory) and we have the time and space to freely express our feelings (emotional). These different types of rest can also include things like engaging in meditation (spiritual), attending community events with supportive and positive people (social), keeping a journal (mental) or bringing the arts into our daily lives (creative).
What works for one person doesn’t always suit another, so if you try one of these examples and you’re not a fan, that’s ok – there’s no right or wrong here! Why not take this summer to find out what works for you, and give something a go you haven’t tried before? You might just feel a bit more rested by the end if you do…