The holidays are full of traditions — gathering around the table for a special meal, hanging ornaments on the tree, venturing out to view twinkling lights. Each moment is precious and creates a lasting memory. After the death of a loved one, everything changes. Instead of cheer and comfort, the holidays may awaken sadness, stress and loneliness. How do you cope with what’s supposed to be a joyful season after losing someone you love?
Whether it’s the first holiday after their death or one of many, the holidays are when their absence is most glaringly obvious. It’s important to remember that moments of joy can live alongside moments of sorrow. With a little preparation, you can make the holiday season easier for you and your family to handle.
Allow Yourself to Feel What You Feel
Your feelings are perfectly natural. Your celebrations will not be the same without that person there, so don’t run away from your emotions. Tears and sadness do not have to ruin your entire holiday. Cry when you need to. You don’t have to put on a brave face and pretend everything’s okay. On the other hand, give yourself permission to have fun when you can. It’s not a betrayal.
Make a Plan
Instead of anticipating the holidays with fear or anxiety, take control of the situation. Plan what you want to do and what you don’t want to do to get through this time. Predictability will help you know what to expect and feel more in control.
Instead of carrying on like nothing has happened, you might want to take this year as an opportunity to redefine your traditions. Embrace change if it helps you cope with the grief. Loss has a unique way of permitting us to evaluate our holidays and decide what we enjoy and what we don’t. You can alter things slightly, or you can incorporate some brand new traditions. For example, instead of hosting a gathering, you might celebrate at another loved one’s home.
Let the Memories Come
Don’t hide from loss and the memories that will undoubtedly come. Grieving is a part of the healing process. Memorialize your loved one, remember their life and enjoy memories. Your memories can help you appreciate the time you had together. You can organize your holidays in a significant way, honoring your loved one’s life and sharing special moments. You may find it helpful to:
- Light a candle for your loved one.
- Say a prayer.
- Share funny or memorable stories.
- Cook their favorite dish.
- Show pictures of them.
Do Something for Others
Reaching out and helping others, especially those in need, can bring a sense of fulfillment and joy. You can donate to charity in your loved one’s name. Invite new guests to share in your celebrations. Volunteer at a shelter or visit a local nursing home.
Reach Out for Help
Whether it’s reaching out to family or calling a close friend for support, let others know what you need and how they can best help you. If your pain reaches a tipping point and you don’t know what to do, just remember that you are not alone. Grief counseling can help you walk through this season and find healthy ways to cope.
Book your appointment with a compassionate professional at Taylor Counseling Group.