The holidays, as well as birthdays and other celebrations, are often difficult for anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one. This is particularly true during the first year of adjusting to life without them.
The holiday season may result in a renewed sense of grief. Especially if well-intentioned individuals are encouraging those who are grieving to participate in traditional festivities. While there can be joy in being together with family and friends, the holidays can also bring feelings of sadness, loss and emptiness.
For those who find themselves struggling with grief during the holidays and other celebrations, consider these ideas:
Talk About Grief
Grief isn’t a linear journey. Ignoring pain and emotions won’t make it go away. Don’t be afraid to talk about grief with others. Confiding in close family and friends can help a grieving person feel heard and understood.
Establish Boundaries During the Holidays
Friends and family may encourage a grieving person to participate in the holiday just as they normally would. While these intentions are typically good, it is important for the bereaved to set boundaries and focus on what they want. While grieving, one should openly and honestly discuss wishes with friends and family. They should clarify what they are comfortable with and have the emotional bandwidth to do.
Acknowledge the Loss
Families can find ways to honor their loved one’s physical absence during holiday celebrations by incorporating their spirit into celebrations and holiday traditions. Examples of this could be decorating ornaments in ways that are symbolic of a loved one, cooking their favorite meal or making a memorial donation to a favorite charity.
Reflect On and Embrace Fond Memories
Memories of a loved one, both from the holidays and other special times, are an important legacy. Rather than ignoring these memories, talk about them with family and friends. It’s OK to laugh and it’s OK to cry.