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4 Ways Grief Might Show Up This Eid & How to Move Through It

Along with the joy of being with the people we love, the holidays may also remind us of who we’ve lost. A holiday can bring on a fresh wave of grief after the passing of a loved one–even many years later. The difficult emotions we thought we had dealt with begin to resurface. And when everyone else is celebrating, the grief can feel even more heavy than usual. Here are four ways that grief may show up this Eid, along with tips to help you move through it. 

4 Ways Grief Might Show Up This Eid & How to Move Through It

Image Credit: Psychology Tools

 

1. Feeling Guilty

As Eid approaches, you might feel some excitement about celebrating – then immediately shut down your excitement. Feeling anything other than sadness means that you’ve forgotten your loved one, or that you’re moving on without them…right? You hold onto the feelings of sadness to remember the person you’ve lost, and you feel guilty for experiencing any other emotion, like being happy.

For better or for worse, grief won’t go away because you “forget” to feel it. It will always remain a part of you – but you learn to grow beyond it. Think of grief as a circle inside of you. When you first experience a loss, it overwhelms you. But with time, you begin to grow around the circle of grief inside of you. It will become more bearable. You’ll be able to experience other emotions and feelings, like excitement before Eid or stress at work.

4 Ways Grief Might Show Up This Eid & How to Move Through It

Image Credit: What’s Your Grief

On the other hand, you might feel guilty for being sad on Eid, especially if it’s been a while since the passing of your loved one. You should be over it by now, right? Maybe you’ve been told that feeling sad for “too long” is a sign of low Iman (faith in Allah) and that you need to accept His will. (This is called spiritual bypassing. Learn about why it can be harmful to your healing.) Yes, the loss of your loved one is God’s will, but it also hurts – and that’s okay. Death is described as a Fitnah (a trial or difficulty) for a reason – because it’s difficult to experience. It’s okay to feel sad about losing someone even many years after their passing. If you’re struggling to make sense of your loss on a spiritual level, it’s important not to ignore this. Find support from a religious figure who you know and trust. Share your thoughts with them. Ask yourself, “What can I learn about my Creator and about myself through this experience?” These resources may help too.

 

2. Avoiding Your Feelings

The holidays can be a painful reminder of your loss, and sometimes it’s easier to avoid your feelings with distractions. You might spend more time watching TV, avoid being alone, or put off making plans to celebrate. Maybe you’re tired of grieving or worried that your feelings will overwhelm you while everyone else is celebrating.

No matter how long it’s been, grief often returns in different waves. Avoiding your feelings can prolong the grieving process and prevent you from healing. Responding to your feelings in a mindful way allows you to grow beyond your grief. Here’s how you can do that:

  •  Identify which stage of grief you’re in. Pay attention to how you feel and what you are thinking. It’s normal to alternate between these stages as you heal, even many years after a loss.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit that you are in the anger stage, for example, instead of where you may want to be, the acceptance stage. To move past a stage, give yourself the time to fully experience your emotions. Channel them into writing, journaling, making Duaa, or talking to someone who will listen without judgment.
    If you tend to avoid expressing your grief for fear of triggering other family members, find a space where you can express yourself openly. Talk to a close friend, mentor, a therapist.
    With time and mindful processing, you’ll find that your grief will pass through and make room for other feelings like gratitude, hope, and acceptance.

 

3. Pushing Their Memory Away

Sometimes, just remembering your loved one is painful. You may think that the solution is to simply not remember. But in trying to avoid the memory of the person who has passed, you miss out on opportunities to make Duaa for the person you love. You lose the chance to honor their memory or feel grateful for the blessings they brought into your life.  Think of how often the Prophet (S) would remember his wife, Khadijah.

Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) would say, “I was not jealous of any wife of the Prophet as I was jealous of Khadijah, and it was not because I saw her. It was only because the Messenger of Allah mentioned her so much, and because whenever he would slaughter a sheep, he would look for Khadijah’s friends to gift them some of it.” (Tirmidhi) After her passing, The Prophet (S) gave gifts to Khadijah’s family and friends and would give charity on her behalf.

If you find yourself avoiding the memory of your loved one this Eid, try channeling your grief into a positive outlet. Utilizing these strategies doesn’t mean that you won’t feel the pain of your loss. But it can provide you with healthier ways of remembering and honoring your loved one, and benefitting then after their passing.

  • Give charity on their behalf.
  • Write a letter to them in your journal.
  • Share stories of your loved one and reflect on how they’ve impacted your life.
  • Visit their family and loved ones and give them gifts.
  • Make Duaa on their behalf and ask Allah (SWT) to heal your heart and reunite you in Paradise.
  • Visit their grave and invite others to join.

(Related: 6 Tips To Support Someone Who Is Grieving This Eid)

 

4. Not Feeling Social

You don’t have to go through your grief alone, but you may want to at times. You may want to opt out of Eid and spend the day in bed. But ask yourself, “What will actually make me feel better?” What tradition do you absolutely need to hold on to and which one can you put on hold for now?

  • Maybe the idea of doing Eid as usual seems overwhelming. You don’t have to do everything that you would normally do for Eid i.e., decorating, buying gifts, cooking, spending the whole day with others, etc.
  • It’s okay to take a break from what’s expected and keep your Eid low-key and simple. Choose one or a few things that feel manageable and focus on those things.
  • If you’re feeling guilty for putting a damper on everyone else’s excitement, be open about your feelings. Explain that you need some alone time but are happy to participate in a few activities.
  • When alone, try walking, exercising, or doing something with your hands. Spend time in nature; try reading, going on a hike, or praying/making Thikr. This can give you the space to process your thoughts and replenish your energy.

Being with family and community can be comforting and helpful, but sometimes it’s not what you need. If that’s the case, focus on what you can do, take time alone, and reconnect with everyone when you’re ready.

 

5. Lastly, Remember That Emotions Are A Mercy (Even the Difficult Ones)

When the Prophet (S) lost his young son Ibrahim, he weeped as he lowered him into the grave. The companions around him were taken aback by this, as it was unusual for men to display their emotions so openly at the time.

Abdur Rahman bin `Auf said to the Prophet, “O Allah’s Apostle, even you are weeping!”

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said to Abdur Rahman bin `Auf, “O Ibn `Auf, this is mercy.”

Then he continued to weep and said, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.” As difficult as it is, the ability to feel and release grief is a mercy from Allah (SWT). It is the natural way by which we experience loss and express our pain. It’s how we grow from that pain towards acceptance and gratitude. If grief shows up this Eid, let it come through and move you closer towards healing and growth. Read more here about how to support someone who is grieving this Eid. For more resources from The FYI, follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter here.

This resource was funded in part with generous support from:

4 Ways Grief Might Show Up This Eid & How to Move Through It

Blog Author:

Maryam-K
Maryum Khwaja

Maryum Khwaja, LCSW is a Community Educator with The FYI with over twenty years of mental health experience. As a licensed clinical social worker in New York and Massachusetts, she has worked in child protective services, mental health clinics, and as a therapist. She co-founded Nasiha Counseling, a private practice specializing in Muslim clients, and currently provides mental health support at Boston Medical Center’s Adult Day Health program.

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Madiha Tahseen

Dr. Madiha Tahseen is the Research Director and a Community Educator at The Family and Youth Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her research expertise is in positive youth development amongst Muslim-American youth, particularly focusing on the role of cultural and religious contexts in character development among minority populations.

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Issra Killawi

Issra Killawi is a Resource Development Manager with The Family and Youth Institute. She graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Apparel Design and a minor in Art. She has interned with The FYI previously and co-authored The FYI’s Marriage Prep Toolkit.

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(Bukhari).

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Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).