Celebrating the Holidays & Coping with the Loss of a Loved one.

Celebrating the holidays without a loved one can be a challenge and can take some of the joy from a normally happy time. So, how do you honor their memory while still enjoying the holidays? When you lose a loved one you once celebrated with, the holidays can be a time of grief and sadness. Traditions you once treasured can be difficult to continue. While everyone grieves in different ways and on different timelines, it is possible to cope during the holidays — and perhaps even enjoy the time, though certainly in a different way than before. Keep in mind that it is difficult to make grief disappear during celebrations. “Remember you are grieving, whether it’s a holiday or not.  “You may feel joy, pain and bittersweet memories all at the same time.

Honor Their Memory

I suggest starting new traditions that your loved one would have enjoyed, do something generous for another person, plant a tree or light a candle in their memory. “Think about honoring them with something symbolic. A mix of old and new traditions is a good approach

Share Your Stories

Another great way to remember someone is by sharing a favorite or funny story from a previous holiday. “Sharing stories is a good idea, especially when people laugh. “Remember, feeling joy isn’t a betrayal of the lost one.”

Have a Plan B

 Plan with your family and friends and allow time to include both happiness and grief, as you will feel both.”

Plan A could include spending time with family and friends while Plan B provides you with a backup option allowing you to focus on your grief, such as skipping a family tradition in order to watch a movie or look through an old photo album.

Along with starting a new tradition a break from a past tradition may be needed

If thinking about your family traditions is too overwhelming, it may be best to change course this year. “Some families choose to do something completely different, especially in the early years “Go on a vacation, a cruise.  I suggest sitting down with your family and discussing the choices to agree on plans beforehand.

Accepting help from others or limiting activities is also a good way to manage expectations during the holidays. For example, baking and cleaning can be enjoyable chores, but if it’s too much to get through, ask for help or buy baked goods instead. Other holiday tasks such as shopping, getting a tree, decorating and sending cards can take a lot of energy. Decide what you would really enjoy and ask friends, family or neighbors to help.

Plan Ahead

You may want to avoid gatherings because you are afraid you are going to “breakdown” and spoil the other’s holiday. In reality, family/friends often feel worse by your absence and concern for you being alone. Comforting each other is an important ingredient in the grief process. If you plan to go to a holiday event at a family member or friend’s home, prearrange with them a location, such as a bedroom, where you can go if you need to have some privacy. If a situation looks especially difficult over the holidays, it is OK to cancel your plans.

Reach Out to Others

If you do not have many friends or family members nearby, seek out a support group or others such as a neighbor or church member who you could spend time with.

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