It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, or Maybe Not.....
The holidays are a time of great joy, family togetherness, merry music and parties, traditions, and excitement. But if you are grieving the loss of a loved one this holiday season, this may be far from the truth for you this year. You may be facing this season with fear and dread and just waiting for it all to be over. You may wonder how your family and friends can just carry on and expect you to also while you are thinking "does anyone realize what I am going through? How can I possibly celebrate?"
There may be pressure from your well-meaning family and friends who think that if you will just participate in all of the festivities you will feel better. Some who are grieving actually do feel some peace in continuing the traditions that they have always practiced around the holidays. It brings a degree of comfort to them that life does go on. Others want nothing to do with any of the usual festivities and carrying on with traditions brings further pain and sadness. We all grieve differently, just as we all celebrate differently. And that is why it is difficult to give tips for getting through the holidays when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. However, I offer this list of tips with the realization and hope that at least one of these concepts or ideas will speak to you and help you to find some peace and some hope this holiday season.
1) Realize that like many things that are difficult, the anticipation and dread of making it through the holidays is often worse than the event itself.
2) Recognize that you have the right to celebrate or not celebrate in whatever is best for you right now. However, if you have young children you do need to take their needs into consideration also. You may need to rely on family or friends to help shop for them or decorate if you cannot do it this year.
3) Accept the invitations that may bring you some lighter moments and where there are likely to be people who are understanding and supportive of your loss. Decline those invitations where you do not feel that this will be the case.
4) Hold on to traditions that still have meaning for you, such as attending a church service or donating to a charitable organization, possibly in honor of your loved one. Feel free to at least temporarily suspend those traditions that do not have any special meaning for you this year.
5) Start a new family tradition that has significance and honors your loved one. Maybe it is a special ornament that you buy each year that represents your loved one, or maybe it is a special gift that you give each year to a cause that was important to them.
6) Accept that there will be tears and that tears are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of deep love.
7) Draw on your faith in whatever way brings comfort to you. It is okay to be angry with God. It is okay to not feel like partaking in faith-based traditions this year.
8) Allow others to care for you and help you this year. Give them a break if they do not always know the right thing to say or the right way to help you. Ask for specific help when you need it.
9) Accept that during this season, you may find yourself crying, laughing, remembering, craving time alone, wanting others to surround you, and that all of it is normal and okay.
10)Recognize that this holiday season will come and go and that you will get through it in the best way that you can, and that next year may be different.
Wishing you love, peace and hope.