• Date: 12/12/2017
  • Cemetery: GMCT Home

Holidays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries…

Significant events can trigger strong emotions and grief responses. While grief responses may change over time, the emotions we experience as anniversaries come and go can be emotionally demanding and stressful. The lead up to these events can often feel worse than the day itself.

GMCT partnered with the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement (ACGB) to produce a series of guides to assist you or a loved one during difficult times.

If you or someone you know finds this time of year difficult, these tips from the ACGB might be helpful.

Plan in advance

In the lead up to significant occasions planning can help give you a greater sense of control, which can help to ease some of the anxiety and concern you may be feeling.

Occasions such as birthdays and Christmas often come with established traditions and rituals. You may prefer to stick with traditions you have always had, but don’t be afraid to alter your traditions if you need to.

If you decide to cancel your usual activities altogether, try planning something else to do, as too much free time may leave you feeling isolated and lonely.


Let others know

Share your plans and the way you are feeling with others in your life. It’s okay to be honest with them and let them know that this is a difficult time for you.

People may feel unsure how to act around others who are grieving, so let them know that it’s okay for them to talk about your loved one, and that if you get upset, then that’s okay too.

If you are planning to attend an event or gathering, think about letting the organiser know in advance that it’s a difficult time for you. That way, you can feel comfortable leaving if you need to.


Take care of yourself

It is important to take care of yourself physically and emotionally in the lead up to, and during, significant occasions.

The first question you need to ask yourself is: What do I need at this time? This is not a selfish question. Significant occasions can be really hard, so make sure you tune into your own needs.

Try not to suppress your emotions. If you need to have a good cry, then do so, as you will likely feel better afterwards.

But, don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself either. Happiness and sadness can co-exist, and being happy is not disrespectful to the memory of your loved one.

Try doing something that makes you feel good. It may be as simple as reading your favourite magazine, going for a walk, listening to music, getting a massage or enjoying a good cup of coffee.

If you are finding it difficult to manage on a day-to-day basis, it may be helpful to see a

counsellor or other health professional. It’s okay to admit you are struggling with your grief. No-one will think any less of you if you ask for help along the way.

Find out more

  • Click here for more tips on managing significant events and anniversaries.
  • Visit our Dealing with Grief page for links to information sheets and key support services.


GMCT gratefully acknowledges The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement in developing our grief and bereavement fact sheets and information.