Tomorrow is the day of All Saints and the 2nd of November is remembered for All the Faithful Dead. For various reasons, November is a month that starts connecting us with death. In other words, many people live these days with a special connection to their grief. After the loss of something or someone significant, various psychological processes force people to engage in different coping strategies to adjust to the new reality. These labels, which come from Catholicism, have been deeply rooted in our culture (to the point that, at least in our country, All Saints’ Day is festive in the calendar). However, other traditions are also practiced around this time of year, the best known of which is the traditional Halloween.
Last year almost 410,000 people died in Spain, and that is only the count from 2016. Not all of them will be remembered these days from a religious perspective, and not all their relatives and friends will come to the cemeteries to visit their tombs. However, this doesn’t mean that those who are still here will not remember them, to be present, to regret their loss or to thank their shared life with them. It’s experiencing the mourning in a different way, that is to say it’s the acceptance of the loss and orientation to the future, therefore maintaining psychological composure in this moment of despair.
For those who have lost a loved one – no matter how much time has elapsed since then – the calendar is full of marked dates until it looks like an authentic emotional minefield. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries of different events… the person in mourning slowly goes through this minefield year after year. Whether you feel like you identify with them or not, official festivities that remember who is no longer with us, such as All Saints’ Day, are included in the path of their grief. For that reason, sometimes these days are an opportunity for the tribute while for others it’s one more mine on the road after the loss.
They can also be both at the same time. Don’t worry, you’re not a weirdo: we all have more than one loss undermining our calendar. In fact, in the words of Robert Neimeyer, a US-based grief psychologist and professor at the University of Memphis, “the loss is a core issue in our life curriculum”
Therefore, whether your mourning is recent or if you have been carrying it for some time, we want you to protect yourself against the explosion of the mines with these suggestions:
Don’t feel obligated to go to the cemetery or let anyone stop you from going if you need it. Some people find comfort and company by taking All Saints’ Day as a designated date to visit the place where their loved one rests. For others, the gravesite doesn’t mean anything, because they don’t feel like that person is there. Don’t let anyone decide for you what you need on these occasions.
Live this day of grief (and others) in your own way by reserving moments; a moment to connect with your loss, and another moment to rest from the pain and guide you back to reality. Make your own rituals, there is nothing more correct than expressing what needs to be expressed.
If you prefer to live this -and other dates- in solitude, it is lawful that you do it. However, if you feel that loneliness is going to weigh you down too much on a day like this, look for the company of friends and family of your trust. Maybe they will also be comforted to share this celebration with you.
As you see, the most important suggestion is that you pay attention to your own needs and you do what you think is best for you. This advice goes beyond All Saints’ Day. However, keep in mind that grief is a long and complex process so, if you feel that it is creating serious difficulties in your normal functioning and your relationships, it is advisable to consult a professional who can accompany you in the process. Asking for help will not return your loved one, but it will help you to continue your life in a healthy way.