Grief and the Holidays
Grieving the loss of a loved one is never easy. However, grief and the holidays can be especially challenging when celebrations, traditions, and family gatherings heighten our sense of loss.
This holiday season, it is important to be mindful of your feelings and the feelings of others who may be struggling with grief – whether it is a recent loss or a loss from the past that is felt more keenly during the holidays. Be open to making changes to your holiday plans if needed.
Making a plan for the holidays.
When you are dealing with grief and the holidays, it is important to be gentle with yourself when making plans. Discuss your plans and traditions with your family and decide together what feels right for this year. You may want to change the location or keep things the same. You may want to change the timing of certain activities or skip certain activities this year. If your deceased loved one shouldered some of the responsibility for certain holiday meals or traditions, discuss if you want to continue those traditions and how the workload will be divided up so no one is overwhelmed.
Brainstorm ways to make this holiday season easier for everyone. Accept that others in your family may be dealing with the loss of the same person in a way that is different from you. Respect each other’s differences as you adjust this year’s plans.
Honor your loved one.
Keep your loved one’s spirit alive in this holiday season and the years to follow by starting a new tradition in their memory. Some ideas for honoring your loved one include:
- Hang a special ornament in your loved one’s memory.
- Light a candle for your loved one.
- Make a donation to a charity that was important to your loved one.
- Donate altar flowers or another appropriate decoration to your place of worship in their memory.
- Hang a memory stocking or display a memory box where friends and family can write down memories of your loved one. Pick a special time during the holidays to read these memories together.
Remember that others are grieving, too.
Grief and the holidays are difficult for many people. Consider reaching out to friends of your loved one who may be missing them this holiday season. Make sure that children – and adults – know that it is okay to still celebrate and enjoy themselves.
Also, be aware that others may be grieving their own losses this holiday season and that their grieving process may be different from yours. Some may want to spend time around others. Some may want to spend the holidays alone. Respect these differences and continue to offer your support.
Have a back-up plan.
With even the best laid plans, the holidays may be harder than you anticipate. Have a back-up plan for how you will cope with grief and the holidays. Support is available from friends, support groups, and your religious community. Reach out if you need someone to talk to.
Allow yourself the freedom to cancel plans if you need to. Give yourself permission to focus on self-care instead by making yourself a special meal at home, listening to your favorite songs, journaling, or watching a movie.
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care provides complimentary Grief Recovery Groups in all the communities we serve. Please call us at 1-888-564-3405 for more information.
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