How can you get past grief during the holidays?
As we age, we naturally lose more people who are close to us. If that loss was recent and/or is still raw, it can make the holidays especially painful. Watching others enjoy the holiday when you have a tremendous hole in your heart is gut wrenching. There are things to do to make the holidays a little easier for you or your loved one.
Ideas to ease holiday pain
Acknowledge that there is a new normal. Things will not be the same as before but a ‘new normal’ can feel okay.
Talk about the deceased. If you don’t, you implicitly acknowledge that person doesn’t matter anymore. Talk about how dad was a too skinny Santa or how mom caught the turkey on fire one year. Laugh through your tears.
Look at old pictures taken during holiday time.
Keep holiday traditions with your family to the best of your ability. Maybe a new person is decorating the house, but at least it is decorated. The casserole may not taste the same but it will probably be close.
Start new traditions with your family. These can be silly and fun.
Visit the cemetery to talk to your relative about your holiday plans.
Be intentional in your joy. Plan to be happy about something that is happening over the holidays. If you can’t do that, fake it until you make it. Put on a fake smile when your grandchild is in a Christmas play and you might find you are smiling without even trying.
Give to others. Maybe you will help serve dinner at a homeless shelter or donate the money you would have spent on Christmas gifts for that person to charity.
Chances are more than one person is grieving over the same person. The loss of one person can effect a spouse, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. It is okay to be sad and grieve but you must also remember to spend time with family that is light and meaningful. Life will go on, it will just be a new normal.
A final note
If you are unable to find any joy in the holiday (and year round for that matter) without your loved one, seek professional help. The first year without a loved one can be excruciating but every year should get better. The pain and sadness will eventually be replaced with warm memories.