As we wish each other “Happy Holidays” this time of year, those of us who have experienced the loss of a loved one can feel anything but happy. Triggers for our grief seem to be everywhere. Family gatherings, holiday traditions, special foods, and beloved music all make the Holidays bittersweet. Wherever you are in your grieving process, here are a few tips on how to deal with the holidays while embracing the memory of your loved ones.
What you can do to cope with holiday grief
- Know that it’s ok to do things differently. You may find comfort in following family traditions or avoid traditions altogether with the absence of family. Both approaches are completely valid. Different family members will deal with the holidays differently, so it’s important to have open communication and be respectful of each other’s grieving process.
- Have a plan. Difficult situations can be made more challenging when they catch you off-guard. Even though it still will not be easy, a plan gives you the opportunity to prepare emotionally. Whether you’re spending holidays at home with family or traveling across the world; once you’ve made a decision, do not create emotional unrest by second-guessing yourself.
- Ask for help. There are people who want to support you. All you need to do is let them know how to provide that support. Here are some situations where you can provide concrete ways for friends to step in:
- You want to have a tree but need someone else to decorate it.
- You could use another set of hands to help bake cookies with the kids.
- You have decided to make a holiday dinner but would prefer someone else deal with the crowds at the grocery store.
- Determine what you need to do vs. what’s nice to do. Focus on the “need to do” and if you feel comfortable, sprinkle in a few things that are “nice to do.” Whether you consider these a “need to” or a “nice to,” here are a few suggestions on ways to honor your loved ones during the holiday:
Food: Everybody has a special holiday dish that they love to cook, or even just eat. Make it in their memory and think of how happy it made them. Maybe it’s as simple as a green-bean casserole or as sophisticated as an elaborate dessert. The point is to remember how enjoyable your loved one made your life and the lives of everyone in your family.
Photos: Put photos of your loved one around, especially those that show them enjoying the holidays.
Donations: A wonderful way to honor your loved one is to make a donation in their name to their favorite charity.
Stories: Families are all about stories, and the holidays are the perfect time to honor our loved ones with the stories that make us laugh, or cry, or just smile in fond remembrance. It is these stories that can turn even the most profound grief into an appreciation of how fortunate we were to have had that person in our lives.
We at BAYADA have shared these thoughts with you because we know how difficult a happy holiday can be when you’re working through grief. There are scores of other ways to remember and honor your departed loved ones and to channel your sadness into fond memories, good deeds, and even brand new holiday traditions.
We’re here to help
BAYADA is available for both clients and their families. Our hospice care includes bereavement services for families and continued support to cope with grief and the holidays. Keeping your loved ones alive in your heart can be a holiday gift to yourself year after year.