Special occasions can be difficult to deal with following a relationship break-up or bereavement. They may bring back a host of memories, remind you of your loss and in some cases you may have to rethink the plans that you made as a couple. You may also have practical worries, for example knowing what gifts to buy or how to spend your day. There are further tips for buying gifts for children in our Single Parent section under Parenting Issues.

The first anniversary of your marriage or special times together will be difficult, but subsequent ones will get easier and who knows by the next one you may have a new love or have filled your life with meaning beyond a relationship.


Special Occasions following a Break-Up

Birthdays

If it is soon after your break-up you may have had to rethink your plans or feel unable to get into a celebratory mood. That's perfectly fine, remember that its ok to hurt and take time to get over your loss. Whatever the day means to you it is important to realise that this is your day and you have right to do as you wish. Here are ways in which you might consider spending it:

* Let go of what could have been and concentrate on what you have now such as friends and family. Surround yourself with people that matter and don't waste your energy on what is in the past.

* Use your birthday as an opportunity to mark the way ahead and make a fresh start. Set goals for the future and make a list of everything you want to achieve in the coming year. See A Fresh Start for further ideas.

* Make your own plans and don't let well meaning friends and family try and push you into something you don't want to do. Remember they mean well and want to make your day special for you so understand their point of view but be firm and make it clear that you are making your own plans.

* Don't be suprised if blind date offers come out of the woodwork - you may be feeling raw but well meaning friends may suggest that a new man or woman will make your special day for you. Again, be firm and point out that you will redate when you are ready. Either that or make the most of a free night out, good food, good company and leave it at that!

* Treat yourself. Book a facial, body massage, manicure or go the whole hog and book a weekend away at a health spa. Alternatively go for something more adventurous, rally driving, hot air ballooning, an aeroplane flight....something you've always fancied doing but never got round to.

Anniversaries

The first anniversary of your marriage or special times together will be difficult, but subsequent ones will get easier and who knows by the next one you may have a new love or have filled your life with meaning beyond a relationship. Read our tips for and our section on Single Life to get over it and move on.

Valentine's Day

Plastic hearts, fake roses, restaurants that charge four times as much for the same food...let's face it, it's commercial, tacky and who needs it!

flowersSpecial Occasions following Bereavement

If it is your first anniversary, birthday or special day alone remember that the first will be the most painful. Don't give in to pressure from friends and family to get into a celebratory mood or follow their plans for you if you don't want to. Take things slowly and at your own pace.

If you have children talk to them in advance about what they want to do and try and balance your needs with theirs. Remember that people express grief in different ways. They may be excited about your special day when you are not or vice versa. this doesn't mean that they are not feeling their loss, just that they are coping with it differently.

Set aside a special time during the day when you can remember your partner, for example by visiting the grave or lighting a candle. If you have children discuss an activity that you can do as a family such as setting aside time to reflect upon memories. This way you will acknowledge and remember your spouse whilst not letting it dominate the whole day.

Finally, don't bottle your feelings up. Talk to friends and family and contact a help line if you feel the need help.