When someone experiences the loss of a loved one, the imagery of Halloween can be a virtual nightmare. Visions of “in your face” makeshift cemeteries, coffins on display and ghosts or other beings hanging from front yard trees might cause flashbacks to the agonizing loss of a loved one. Be aware that costumes of zombies, skeletons, doctors, etc. can be a trigger to difficult memories. This often catches newly grieving adults by surprise, as they hadn’t thought of Halloween as a big deal so they are unprepared for their reaction to the sights and sounds of Halloween.
In addition, if you or someone you know has lost a child Halloween can be a difficult day as you/they anticipate young children in costumes trick-or-treating at their door. It is just another reminder of what your/their child would be doing if he/she were still alive. It can be hard watching other children have fun, when all you/they can think about is that your/their child died and isn’t able to participate in fun events.
When people are grieving, they often feel like they have a limited amount of energy to cope with life. So for some grieving adults, the idea of dozens or hundreds of children ringing the doorbell may create anxiety. This may be a result of not feeling like you have the energy to open the door and interact with so many people or it may be overwhelming as it is the first Halloween you are alone and this was something you did with your loved one.
Be kind, be patient and be present to yourself and others. Remember it’s ok to take a vacation from this holiday and next year you can reassess. If you want to participate in Halloween, it is also okay if you do it differently than you have in the past. For example, you could invite a friend or family member to join you at your house for trick or treating. Or you could go to someone else’s house. Or you could join a community trunk or treat event so you would be connected with others in your community.
The best piece of advice we can give you, is to spend a little time thinking about what you feel you want to do and whom you want to do it with, and then give yourself permission to be okay with your decision.