When a loss happens on a large scale, people tend to group themselves into different roles. A recent example is the massacre in Las Vegas where 58 innocent people were gunned down and 489 were wounded. Soon after the tragic incident videos of heros were posted, people who set aside their own loss and trauma to help others who have been in shock or needed to be escorted. The community lined up overnight to donate blood to treat the victims.
Although loss in a family is within bounds, similar roles are acted upon and a griever can put aside his/her own needs to take care of the other grievers’ distress. Months later a candid memory, like the first snowfall can trigger the mourning process for the person who postponed their grieving process. This person made sure that other are consoled first, and they were able to start their own recovery, but fell behind.
Two friends of mine encountered death of their parent a few weeks before what was meant to be a joyous milestone in their lives. A mother passed on a month before her wedding, a father passed on a couple of months before he could hold his first grandchild.
The bride focussed on her wedding and postponed the mourning, until the first anniversary. Paging through the wedding album made her feel extremely sad, since her mother was absent in every picture.
The young mother gave her all to secure the baby’s well-being and on her third birthday celebration the family had a gathering to cast their father’s ashes.
Since the family members all had their fair time for mourning and could come to closure, the empathy levels were limited when it came to the relapses of the bride and the young mother.
They felt isolated and to say the least, miserable. Circumstances did not allow them then, neither were that favourable now. So how can they find consolement when everyone has already came to acceptance of the loss? How can they find closure without the same amount of attention that the others received when it first happened?
To commemorate the fallen, religious and traditional groups worldwide annually offer unified gatherings for those who were deeply affected by loss. The annual 9/11 memorial in the USA, Remembrance Day in Canada in November, where everyone shoulder-pins a red poppy on Veterans day to solemnize war victims. Catholic religions celebrate All Souls Day to honour the dead, in Jewish religion Yizkor, a special memorial prayer for the departed, is recited in a synagogue four times a year. Another very well-known celebration, El Día de los Muerto (Day of the Dead) celebrated in Mexico City annually to honour the deceased.
Partaking in community events brings relief, a knowledge of being part of humanity. If you have been postponing grief due to circumstances, personal preference or just haven’t made the time, perhaps it is time to prioritize your own self-care. The unfinished emotions can impact your day to day life and if the grief is left for too long, it could become a part of you that will influence your attitude, future losses, actions and decisions.
Make yourself a priority in the grieving process. Work through Journaling Through Loss and Grief and join one of the world or religious festivals to honour the dead with or without your family and friends. This is your journey of healing. An event like this is a great starting point and gives you a timeline for dealing with your postponed feelings towards closure in a healthy and positive manner.
Click here for a closer look at world festivals that honour the dead.