19 Sep Navigating Seasons of Grief with Self-Compassion
Written by Amanda Brindle, LSW, Associate Manager of Family Services
As October unfolds, the transition from summer to fall carries a spectrum of emotions for families affected by Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC). While the back-to-school period may have passed, its impacts endure. The shift from one season to another often signifies renewal and transformation. However, for families grappling with the profound loss of a child, this transition can be laden with complexities and intense emotions. Each season carries its unique set of triggers, making this transition particularly challenging.
The return to school routines is poignant for SUDC families. The sight of school supplies and structured schedules can serve as reminders of an empty chair at the dining table. While September may have passed, the emotions it brought may linger. Seeking support remains vital, whether through professional counseling, sharing with understanding friends and family, or participating in support groups.
Autumn ushers in a cascade of festivities, including Halloween and Thanksgiving. Traditionally times of joy and togetherness, these occasions can be bittersweet for SUDC families. Finding ways to honor your loved one during these celebrations can offer solace and connection. Consider adapting traditions or creating new ones that allow space for your grief.
As you engage in these activities, remember the importance of self-compassion. It’s okay to take breaks when needed, to allow yourself to say no when things become overwhelming, and to say yes to self-care and moments of respite. If plans become too much to bear, be kind to yourself and know that it’s alright to leave events or change them. Surround yourself with empathetic friends and family members who understand the value of self-compassion.
The upcoming holiday season, with its bustling activities, vibrant decorations, and the joy of everyone around, can sometimes be distressing and triggering for those affected by loss. It’s essential to remember that how you choose to spend any holiday is entirely your decision. Whether you decide to escape from the world with a peaceful trip, spend time alone at home, or gather with family and friends, there’s no wrong way to navigate this season. Your well-being and comfort should guide your choices during this deeply personal journey of healing.
As the year draws to a close, culminating with the arrival of the new year, it can be a time when the reflection on the absence of your loved one becomes exceptionally poignant. The transition into a new year can accentuate feelings of loss and change. During this period, it’s invaluable to lean on your support network, which may include understanding friends, family, or fellow SUDC community members. Coping with the new year can vary widely from person to person, whether it’s through quiet reflection, creating new traditions, spending time with loved ones, engaging in self-care, or seeking professional support. There’s no right or wrong way to navigate this transition; it should be guided by what feels most healing and comforting to you as the healing process is deeply personal and occurs at its own pace. In our digitally connected world, social media plays a significant role in our lives. While it can provide a platform for sharing experiences and finding support, it can also be overwhelming. Be mindful of the content you consume and allow yourself the option to “mute” or unfollow individuals or groups that might be triggering. Your mental and emotional well-being should always be a priority.
Grieving the loss of a child is a deeply personal journey. It’s important to recognize that there’s no right way to approach healing, and your experience is unique. Treat yourself with kindness and self-compassion and understand that it’s permissible to adjust your plans and expectations when the emotions become overwhelming. Your well-being and emotional health take precedence, and this path is one guided by empathy, compassion, and resilience.