Family gatherings after the death of a member can be a difficult thing. The deceased family member could have been the matriarch or the head of the family, which means the family dynamics change. People also deal with grief differently so regardless of the time lapse between the loss and the next family gathering there are those who still haven’t dealt with the loss. The first family meeting after the loss could also revive the feeling of loss because it is an actual reminder that the person is no longer with you.
Family members have different personalities and so they also deal with the loss of a member differently. The coming together of all these personalities, especially for the first time after the death can present an uncomfortable situation for some members. Here are a few things to keep in mind while going for such family gatherings.
Remember everybody grieves differently
Some people move on more quickly than others do. Gauge where you belong in this spectrum. If you move on quickly then accommodate the family members who are still in the first stages of grief. Such members could easily break down after seeing the deceased’s shoes or the seat that they love sitting on. If this happens, acknowledge their pain and let them feel safe to show their emotions. They will eventually move on as you have. If you are on the other end and you move on slowly, do not judge the family members who have accepted the loss and moved on. It is not the time to gauge love for loved ones on one’s ability to accept the loss and move on; everyone heals differently.
Accept the loss
It is natural to want to hold on to old traditions and want to act as though nothing has changed. It is easier to live in denial after the loss of a family member because it is less painful. However, things have changed and accepting it makes it easier to move past the pain.
Maintain Family Traditions
Although accepting the loss entails accepting that they will not be there to do some things anymore, keep the traditions. If the person made a certain dish for family holidays and gatherings, make the dish and mention them. The idea is to acknowledge that they are physically gone but the family still keeps their memory alive.
Talk about your feelings
This one can be particularly difficult if you are not an expressive family. Find a family member that you can talk to in case you get overly emotional. Letting it all out is important to get through the loss of a dear one.
Appreciate the present family members
The loss of a family member doesn’t just tell us that we have lost someone, but that we also have living family members. The loss also reminds us to appreciate people when they are still with us. Death reminds us of the finiteness of life. While the first family gathering after the loss of a member could be difficult, appreciating your family could make it easier to handle the situation.
Maureen Rita is a writer, creative and poet who focuses on issues that affect women, relationships and wellness. I’m constantly exploring the complexities of human experiences and I often challenge societal norms. I also love discovering African music, films, and art. You can
also check out my website on Home, Living and Productivity - www.kallistead.com.