Easter and Passover in Grief

My role in this program is not to assume you have a certain belief system, or even that you have any belief system. However, there are some days on the religious calendar that are unavoidable and whose messages can make grief more of a challenge.

Easter is one of those. Passover as well. In the last few months I have met many people who have had losses associated with those holidays. It’s always a bit dicey to have to cope with both the death of a loved one and a celebration of rebirth or freedom. How does one explain, especially to kiddos, that someone they loved died and doesn’t get to return when they are celebrating the opposite in church, or spending time with family observing the Seder of Passover and the goodness of being freed? Where is the safety or rebirth for the person they knew and loved?

For anyone touched by a death on or near those holidays may I first send you a wish for getting through them with less stress than you are probably anticipating. Then let’s look at some ideas for coping:

  • If the loss was recent, maybe the last two years and near or on the holidays, don’t push yourself to do it “all” this year. You can choose to opt out, or to limit your exposure, or to do something completely different.
  • If you are like the vast majority of people, who find that their beliefs are challenged by death and the hurt caused by losing someone you love, don’t make yourself uncomfortable. If this is not the year to host a Seder or dye eggs by the dozens and cheer at an egg hunt you really would rather miss- exempt yourself. There really is no rule that you must be there.
  • If you find yourself in an emotional moment for the activities you do attend- allow it. You lost someone you loved. You are allowed to show you have had a loss. You do not have to caretake those around you. Children who see an adult cry over a loss learn that tears are acceptable. Adults who are uncomfortable can exit themselves, or take care of themselves. This is your loss, on that day, and you may show you are feeling it. (Don’t forget to bring a tissue…).
  • Finally, if you do participate, you have permission to eat the macaroons and flourless cake and bunny ears and candy egg (candy corn is your call). Carbs make us smile, for a bit, and if it is tough you get to reward yourself.

Easter, Passover, spring- all moments to welcome the new season and the sunshine and the ties that have long held your family together. Welcome them if you can- but if it is too much, use your grief card, and exit Stage Right. There will be another opportunity next year.

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”

– Hal Borland