Holiday time can be some of the most emotionally challenging times of all. Depending on your current life circumstances, this could be an extraordinarily happy time celebrating good news or the opposite. Loss of a loved one changes everything around the holidays. Rituals, traditions, preparations, social connections take on entirely new dimensions. These changes can be quite challenging. There are ways to manage the holidays while honoring your loss or grief and staying engaged.
Rather than avoiding the feelings of grief, lean into them. It is not the grief you want to avoid; it is the pain. Grief is the way out of the pain. Grief is our internal feelings and mourning is our external expressions.
As difficult as it might be, find social support to help support you through the holiday season. Consider creating new traditions, rituals and experiences that honor you and your loss.
· Do be gentle with yourself and protect yourself.
· Don’t do more than you want, and don’t do anything that does not serve your soul and your loss.
· Do allow time for the feelings.
· Don’t keep feelings bottled up. If you have 500 tears to cry don’t stop at 250.
· Do allow others to help. We all need help at certain times in our lives.
· Don’t ask if you can help or should help a friend in grief. Just help. Find ways; invite them to group events or just out for coffee.
· Do, in grief, pay extra attention to the children. Children are too often the forgotten grievers.
- Acknowledge that the holidays will be different and they will be tough.
- Decide which traditions you want to keep.
- Decide which traditions you want to change.
- Create a new tradition in memory of your loved one.
- Decide where you want to spend the holidays – you may want to switch up the location, or it may be of comfort to keep it the same. Either way, make a conscious decision about location.
- Plan ahead and communicate with the people you will spend the holiday with in advance, to make sure everyone is in agreement about traditions and plans.
- Remember that not everyone will be grieving the same way you are grieving.
- Remember that the way others will want to spend the holiday may not match how you want to spend the holiday.
- Put out a ‘memory stocking’, ‘memory box’, or other special place where you and others can write down memories you treasure. Pick a time to read them together.
- Light a candle in your home in memory of the person you’ve lost.
- Include one of your loved one’s favorite dishes in your holiday meal.
- Be honest. Tell people what you DO want to do for the holidays and what you DON’T want to do.