Handling Special Occasions

Celebrating anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and other occasions after a suicide loss can be challenging. These events can bring up painful memories and feelings, but they can also provide an opportunity to celebrate your loved one.

Follow your intuition and do what feels best to you. You can always choose a different way to observe the occasion the next time. Here are some ways to handle special occasions that other survivors of a suicide loss have found helpful.

  • Think about your family's holiday traditions. Consider which ones you would like to continue, and which ones not. Consider developing new traditions if that feels more comfortable.
  • Other family members or friends may feel differently than you do about the way occasions have been celebrated in the past and should be in the future. Try to talk openly with each other about your preferences before the occasion so that everyone knows what to expect.
  • Consider whether you want to be with your family and friends for the holiday, or whether it would be more healing for you to be with a smaller group or by yourself this time. Consider taking a trip if that feels right.
  • Be aware that the anticipation in the run-up to an event is sometimes harder than the event itself.
  • If you find it comforting to talk about your loved one, let your family and friends know that in advance. Tell them it’s okay to mention your loved one's name.
  • If you would find it comforting, make a plan to get your loved one’s friends and family together to acknowledge his or her birthday. If you’d rather spend the day alone, or with just one or two close friends or relatives, that’s okay, too.
  • Above all, bear in mind that there is no correct way to handle holidays, anniversaries, or birthdays. You and your family may have to try several different approaches before you find the one that feels best.

Click here for a list of 10 things you can do for yourself in the aftermath of a suicide loss.