The holidays are a busy time, filled with excitement and anticipation, as well as the love and companionship of family and friends. They are also a reminder of the past year, a time for reflection and fond memories. However, for those who have experienced the death of a loved one, the holidays can be especially stressful and lonely. If you’re already struggling with balancing parties, house guests, gifting and traveling, remembering those who are gone while everyone else is celebrating is a serious challenge.
While it isn’t easy, there are things that can be done to help you recognize and cope with your feelings while still preserving some holiday magic. Many websites and medical professionals have lists of suggestions for surviving the season when you’re feeling less than merry. There are some basic principals, though, which are good advice no matter where you’re at in your grieving process. The most crucial things to remember include:
Don’t forget to see to your own needs: Don’t be afraid to change or adjust your usual holiday plans. Traditions will always be there – that’s why they’re traditions. If you don’t have the energy for the trip downtown, or time to go see the lights this year, don’t feel bad. Communicate early and often to keep from disappointing family and friends. Don’t forget to take time to eat, sleep, and even exercize. These things contribute greatly to your mood, good or bad.
Share your memories with others: Spending time with others who understand what you’re going through is often a great source of comfort. Chances are if you’re feeling low, others are too. If other family members are also grieving, consider forgoing holiday gifts in favor of honoring your loved one in some fashion, whether through a charitable donation or by hosting a holiday get away where family can reminisce without feeling self-conscious. Sharing your feelings might be hard, but it can lead to healing. If you do find that you are alone in your need to remember the deceased, or you are still uncomfortable with your feelings, consider doing something private or personal instead. For some suggestions on what to do to pay your respects during the holiday, check out these ideas.
Remember that your process is your own: Your family and friends care about you, and will likely offer advice about what they think is best for the grieving process. Don’t forget to do what feels most comfortable for you. If volunteering at a local hospital or food pantry helps you heal, then seek out opportunities in the community. If stepping back from a more active role in your family’s celebratory activities is the best way, let them know. It is perfectly natural to need time and space to honor your feelings, and the memory of your loved one. But don’t forget to seek out your family and friends for support. You are not alone.
There is no singular answer for heartache; the coping process differs from person to person. Grief may be framed by the kind of loss that was suffered, whether it was a sudden death or tragic event such as an accident or suicide, or the result of a long illness. Above all, remember that it’s okay not to be in the holiday spirit.
For more information on holiday aftercare programs in your area, reach out to your local funeral director or hospice. Many programs are free of charge and open to the general public. To read additional suggestions for coping, check out Huffington Post’s 10 Ways to Cope With Loss During the Holiday Season. If you experienced a tragedy in your home this year, a trauma cleanup can help you begin the recovery process. Be sure your residence is safe and clean. Call Aftermath Services nationwide at 877-872-4339. Technicians are available 24/7 to answer your call.