Merry making, family gatherings, rekindling friendships that withstood time; everyone and everything seems to be festive. ‘Tis the season to be jolly as they say, but what if the year has been rough and the holidays won’t be the same without your loved one’s laugh, smile, and complete presence in this joyous season? Below are some tips to help you cope with the Holidays:
1) Plan Ahead
The holidays may bring a variety of emotions and feelings and at times our emotions may catch us off guard. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to grieve. Plan ahead for holiday events/activities:
- Which events will I participate in?
- What holiday traditions will I continue?
- What holiday traditions will I change? (who will host the meal, who will bake the famous dessert, who will sit at the head of the table, etc.)
- It is okay to change traditions or pass a tradition to another family member or to the next generation. Think these things through ahead of time and talk to a trusted friend or family member about them. It takes energy, effort, support and a desire to start a new normal but that is exactly what is needed. You don’t have to change everything, just some things. Let your imagination be your friend as your traditions become your own.
2) Commemorate Your Loved One
Do something special to remember your loved one at holiday/family gatherings
- Light a candle
- Give a toast
- Have each person share a memory of your loved one
- Place a photo album on the coffee table
- Arrange a corner/area of a room with pictures and special items that belonged to your loved one
- Plant a tree
- Buy a gift and share it with the needy in memory of your loved one
3) Take Care of Yourself
- Allow yourself to feel emotion (It is OK to cry and it is OK to laugh)
- Be a part of the holiday season with family and friends but take time for yourself; do something relaxing (bubble bath, movie, read a book, go shopping, etc.)
- Do something for someone else (volunteer at food pantry or homeless shelter)
4) Seek Support When Needed
- Talk about your loved one and your feelings with a trusted friend, family member, or clergy
- Seek professional help if needed (call your doctor, seek bereavement counseling)
- Call a Hospice Bereavement Coordinator if you need someone to talk with or need assistance finding a support group or other community referral
Do your best to have the happiest holidays that you can. With practice, it will get better. Your loved one doesn’t want you to be unhappy forever. Go ahead, “Miss them but let them go”. You had them for a lifetime, enjoy the memories they gave to you.