The holidays can be a difficult time if you are dealing with the loss of a loved one. Many people find that this is the time when memories and emotions come out unbidden and it may be difficult to cope. There is no question that a holiday, especially if it is your first holiday without this person, can be painful in this time, however you may find that this can also be a time of healing. After all, this is often the time when families and friends come together; it is also the time when you are allowed to get nostalgic, allowed to shed a tear or reminisce. Here are five ways to help you not only “get through” but enjoy your holiday season.
Acknowledge How You Feel
Whether to yourself or to others around you, don’t be shy about expressing your feelings. If you are overwhelmed and need some time, take that time; if you want to talk to somebody, take the opportunity to do that too. If, on the other hand, you would rather not talk, that is also perfectly fine. Remember, there is no wrong way to feel, your grief is your own.
Let Others Grieve Their Own Way
The rule above also applies to others. Not everyone will express grief the same way; the best thing you can do is allow everyone to deal with the loss on their own terms, never push or get angry just because someone is not reacting the way that you would have expected. All you can control is how you feel and act, that control does not extend over anyone else.
Don’t assume that everything will remain the same around holiday time. It may be that some people in your family would feel more comfortable changing locations or changing up the usual holiday set up in your home. Of course, it may be that everything does stay the same, but whatever the end result, make sure to communicate with everyone who will be spending the holiday with you—it can be a way to avoid discomfort and unnecessary pain.
Create a New Tradition
Some families may find it helpful to create something out of their grief—for example, maybe you would like to spend a few hours volunteering during the holiday as a way to commemorate your loved one, or you may wish to simply include a memory trove where everyone shares their favorite memory of the deceased. Whatever you decide, this new tradition can be a way to celebrate life, while bringing you closer to your loved ones.
Make a Remembrance Gesture
Especially if you are working through a recent loss, some kind of gesture to remember your lost loved one may be particularly healing and meaningful. Consider lighting a candle, holding a moment of silence or creating a little memorial area with pictures and relevant personal items. This can either be a way to start a conversation or, alternately, a way to remember quietly.
Whatever you decide to do, always make it a top priority to take care of yourself and your loved ones as much as possible. Share your pain and help each other through it however works best.