Many of us look forward to the holidays so we can spend time with loved ones and do all of those holiday things we love like decorating, sharing meals together, exchanging gifts, baking, you name it. But if you have ever or are currently grieving a loved one, there’s a chance that the holidays are extremely difficult for you. Maybe you find yourself withdrawing from the holiday events you once loved or maybe one moment you’re having a great time and the next you feel guilty. Grief is complicated and we all experience it differently, but there are ways we can cope throughout the holiday season and every day.
When it comes to holiday parties and events, set boundaries. There is almost always a feeling of obligation when it comes to attending these parties, but put yourself first. If you feel up to attending, it’s okay if it’s only for a certain amount of time. Find a balance between pushing yourself and engaging.
Surround yourself with friends and family who love and support you. This one probably goes without saying, but these are the people you can be happy around one second, and crying around the next, and they love you through it all.
Through everything, feel your feelings. The holidays are rough because you know it’s a season of joy, peace, and love, but the truth of it is you may not feel this every day throughout the season and that’s okay. Don’t try to push your feelings away or avoid them, and understand that you can feel happy and sad at the same time.
While we know the idea of “canceling” the holiday altogether may sound tempting, we don’t recommend doing this. It’s okay to not attend this or that because you don’t feel up to it, but don’t isolate yourself. Take time to grieve, but balance that with some interaction.
Often when we lose someone important to us, we don’t think about their role during the holidays until it’s too late. For instance, if Grandma made a certain cookie every year, determine ahead of time who will do that now, or if Dad carved always carved the Christmas turkey, talk about who will do that long before the dinner takes place to avoid having to discuss it.
Holidays are often all about traditions, but as a way to honor your loved one and your current situation, consider starting a new tradition. This may look like lighting a candle for your loved one, decorating their grave for the holiday, planning a moment of silence, or maybe even designating a special Christmas ornament for your loved one.
Find comfort in doing things for other people. Consider donating a gift or money to a charity or organization in your loved one’s name or adopting a family for the holidays.