Holidays and anniversaries can be difficult times for those directly affected by crime. For survivors different events, traditions, smells, tastes, dates, or times can trigger both positive and negative memories that may feel overwhelming. Often Holidays and anniversaries can be extremely distressing. Many people find that holidays and anniversaries “trigger” renewed sorrow, evoke painful memories, create additional stress, and heighten any sense of loss. Any and all feelings that you have surrounding holidays and anniversaries are normal, and each person responds differently.
YOUR HOLIDAY, YOUR WAY
There is no right or wrong ways to recognize and celebrate holidays and anniversaries. The best way to approach a holiday is to find ways to make it personally meaningful while acknowledging events, feelings, and circumstances this year. It may be helpful beforehand to think about what will make the holidays easier and better for you and what might make them harder.
- Choose to celebrate or not.
- Determine your capacity for being around people.
- Select your companions carefully.
- Spend time with those you find helpful, supportive, understanding, patient, and caring.
- Celebrate in ways that are meaningful and helpful.
- Don’t feel obligated to send gifts or cards.
- Maintain existing family traditions and/or create new ones.
- Take care of yourself. Plan for the holidays with family members or friends. Those close to you can help you cope. Include children in discussions about how the family should celebrate this year. Discuss what traditions to follow and what new ones to create. ALL REACTIONS ARE NORMAL REACTIONS Complicated emotional responses are common and natural. It is normal to experience anger, resentment, guilt, and other negative responses. Don’t con-ceal your feelings to protect other adults, but strive to be sensitive to children’s needs. Bereaved family members should not be pressured to participate in un-wanted extended family rituals. You don’t have to participate in all (or any) activities. Seek professional help if needed. If you are concerned about burdening family and friends, or feel overwhelmed by their feelings or your own, you might find it helpful to speak to a professional like a grief counselor, religious leader, family doctor, or therapist.