The Holidays and Grief

Overcoming the pain and loss of a loved one, either to death or the death of a relationship, can be extremely traumatic. Especially when presented with the times of the year that are notorious for celebrating “with loved ones”.

So how on earth is anyone expected to cope on these special occasions without that special someone? For many, myself included, this is one of the hardest aspects of grieving. When you have lost someone immensely important and special in your life, for me it was my mom, the ability to celebrate almost anything flies out the window. Holidays only magnify the loss, and can often present traumatic anxiety and deepened grief and sadness.

The need for support is often times greatest during the holidays an dspecial occasions celebrated with the missing cherished one. Pretending that this isn’t the case, or that you aren’t hurting just isn’t true for you. It isn’t a sign of weakness to share that your grief is more acute during holiday celebrations. It is a sign of loving. Lean into the grief as you make it through this holiday season – and you will.

There are many beautiful ways to incorporate and remember your departed loved one and your loss into the holidays, which will, in turn, help you process through this year’s experience. Which is, undoubtedly different than before. Maybe it has been years, or only a few months.

* Say a special prayer before the dinner about your loved one

* Share online about them and their traditions they brought to your holidays

* Have everyone tell or share a funny or special story about your loved one

* Light a candle for your loved one

* Place a special flower (their favorite?) at the Holiday dinner table in their memory

Of course, there are other ways to cope. Develop a Plan B. If Plan A is to go over to Christmas dinner at Bob’s house, then make a Plan B. If things don’t feel right, then have Plan B ready to go into motion, such as a movie or special book.

Cancel the holiday. Yes, you can. Not forever, but just for this year if you are feeling nothing. Many people find the Holiday routine as a comfort, and that life continues, despite grief.

Create new traditions. The traditions that you once held with your loved one may not be able to continue in their absence, and that’s okay. Build on some new traditions, with their memory as the base.

My family is still working our way through life and the holidays without mom. We’ve started a few new traditions to cope. Time really does heal.

I’ve learned to give myself grace. To be gentle with myself and allow time for the feelings, of joy and deep sadness in remembrance. To allow the tears to honor her memory.

Try the holidays in a new way, living one day at a time, and allowing yourself to remember and cherish.

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