Coping With Grief at Milestones

Grief changes things. This may sound simplistic, but when a loved one dies, our lives are never the same. Our lives continue—days come and go—but how do we celebrate milestones and grieve at the same time?

We spoke with a mother who attends a grief support group. Her story (shared with her permission) is one of double tragedy; she lost two of her three adult daughters in separate accidents within a few months. She shared it is not necessarily the “holiday” grief that is so hard to cope with, because holiday grief is more expected. The weddings of her daughters’ friends and births of their babies, or family reunions are most difficult.

“My oldest daughter never got to experience the birth of a child, and my younger daughter never had the chance to marry. It is like they were cheated out of these things because of their deaths,” she says. She says she is now able to go to receptions, but they usually arrive late, and leave early. This mother does not attend baby showers, but may send a gift directly to the new mother. “I’m not bitter, I just need to care for myself during these times,” she shared.

Perhaps these reminders may help us cope with the “milestones” in our life:

M – Memories. It is helpful to keep the memories of our loved ones alive by sharing things that mean the most to us.
I – Imagine. Try to imagine how our loved ones would want to celebrate the milestone, and incorporate it into the celebration.
L – Love. Love others and love yourself. Give yourself the time and patience you give to others.
E – Express your emotions. Let yourself laugh and cry. Sometimes we just need to let others know how we feel.
S – Search and savor. Search out your blessings and savor the simple. Take Irving Berlin’s advice and “fall asleep counting your blessings.”
T – Take charge. Make decisions that strengthen you. We build our confidence by taking charge of those things we have control over.
O – Open yourself up. Sharing our grief with someone helps, and it may give them permission to express their grief too.
N – Note your progress. Keep a journal or a diary. This helps us see our blessings and areas we need to work on.
E – Eat and exercise. The physical affects the emotional, so if you care for your physical self, your emotional self follows.

To learn more about our grief support services or to speak with someone in our bereavement department, call (800) 237-4629.

About Hospice of the Red River Valley
In 1981, Hospice of the Red River Valley was founded on the belief that everyone deserves access to high-quality end-of-life care. We fulfill our nonprofit mission by providing medical, emotional, personal and spiritual care, as well as grief support to our patients, their families and caregivers during a tender time in life. Our staff helps those we serve experience more meaningful moments through exceptional hospice care, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, wherever a patient calls home. The organization serves more than 40,000 square miles in North Dakota and Minnesota, including in and around Bismarck, Detroit Lakes, Devils Lake, Fargo, Fergus Falls, Grand Forks, Lisbon, Thief River Falls, Valley City and many more communities. Hospice of the Red River Valley offers round-the-clock availability via phone, prompt response times and same-day admissions, including evenings, weekends and holidays. Contact us anytime at 800-237-4629 or


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