The holiday season is officially upon us. No matter where you go – the mall, the local coffee shop, your favorite restaurant across the street – you can’t help but notice the twinkling lights, the jolly fat man, and the various assortments of wreaths and Christmas trees. You can’t take a step without hearing the faint noise of a holiday jingle in the distance. Although some time has passed since your loved one passed, you’re still adjusting to a new normal. You may even be dreading this time of year.
Holidays Aren’t Always Happy
Let’s be honest: even in good times, holidays aren’t all fun and joyful. A lot of hard work goes into holiday preparations, and then there’s the constant pressure to be cheerful and appreciative. Unrealistic and unmet expectations are one reason many people struggle with anxiety and depression during the “most wonderful time of the year.”
For anyone who is grieving, the holidays are an even greater challenge. As the season approaches, you may be filled with heartache, rather than lighthearted anticipation. When the festivities begin, your sadness and loneliness seem magnified. All the things that make the holidays special – togetherness, friends, family, celebration – can exacerbate the emotions of a broken heart.
Try to remember, although you may feel all alone or lost, you’re not the first to face the holidays while grieving. Others have felt the way you’re feeling now, and they’ve learned to cope. Following are some of the methods they’ve used to get through the holidays. While no one suggestion will work for everyone, we hope you’ll find some ideas here that will work for you.
8 Tips to Coping with Grief During the Holidays
- Acknowledge the Change. Things just aren’t the same. Trying to pretend like nothing has changed is a sure recipe for holiday disaster. Instead of trying to preserve all your holiday traditions, pick and choose the ones most important to you. Following the same routine as any other year won’t feel genuine, and you certainly won’t have the energy for a full day of holiday cheer.
- Get Creative Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong way to observe the holidays. Continue to set your loved one’s place at the holiday table as a reminder that he or she is still with you in spirit. Or, plan a Christmas Eve buffet with a completely different menu than the Christmas Day dinner you are accustomed to because the sweet honey ham was your deceased grandpa’s favorite, or your departed sibling always requested your homemade apple pie. Hang an embroidered stocking dedicated to your loved one, and fill it with a few of his or her favorite things. Find what works best for you. Whatever changes you can make to avoid sudden outbursts of tears from yourself or your grieving relatives are encouraged
- Reevaluate your Expectations Maybe you’ve always baked dozens of holiday cookies, or you had the most beautifully decorated house on your block. Chances are you don’t feel up to doing it all this year. Eliminate the words “should” and “ought to” from your vocabulary; when you hear these words, look out – a guilt trip is right around the corner. Don’t set up unrealistic expectations for yourself or let others tell you how you should feel or what you should do. This year, resolve to do only those things that give you pleasure
- Involve Family and Friends in Holiday Planning With emotions running high, communication is more important than ever. Discuss your plans with the people closest to you, and let them know you’re feeling anxious about the holidays. Explain that you might want to limit your participation in the festivities, but let them know it’s okay to carry on their celebration without you. Clearing the air will relieve you of feigned happiness, and it will relieve your family of tiptoeing around you.
- Start New Traditions in Memory of your Loved One Make a donation to his or her favorite charity, keep a burning candlea flameless candle in the window, or mention him or her in your prayer before your holiday meal
- Take Care of Yourself Make sure to get enough rest and eat well. Don’t overindulge in rich foods or alcohol, and don’t medicate your feelings. Numbing the pain won’t make you forget. Doing so could make things much worse
- Be the Good Remember the true meaning of the holidays. Consider spending a day working at a soup kitchen or filling holiday baskets for the needy. Send a card to someone else who is hurting, telling him how much he means to you. Sponsor a child in need and send him a personalized teddy bear to remind him he is loved. Giving to others will temporarily shift your focus from your own sorrow, and it may even bring a little joy to your holiday
- Express your Feelings When you’re sad, say so. Whether you share your feelings with someone you trust, keep a journal, or write a letter to your loved one, don’t keep your emotions inside. Bottling up your feelings will almost inevitably result in an explosion of emotions – often at the worst possible moments. Remember to share your happy feelings, too. Concentrating on what’s positive tricks your mind into letting go of some of the negative energy. The pain of grief comes and goes, so enjoy as much as you can. Having fun at the holidays is not a betrayal of your loved one
Products to Help You Deal with Holiday Grief
We understand that preserving the memory, the good times, and the fulfilling life of your loved one is of utmost importance to you. We have several customizable products to help you do just that while alleviating some of your grief during the holidays.
- Every time you see take a look at your Christmas tree, you will remember with a beautiful, personalized holiday memorial ornament.
- This wooden cross ornament embodies your loved one in a sacred, holy manner, reminding you your family member is in a better place now.
- Having a teddy bear under the tree during Christmas time is a sweet sentiment for deceased youth. It’s can also bring you solace if you simply need something to hold during the holidays.
- Christmas isn’t the only time of year you will be missing your beloved. Keep your loved one close with a beautiful piece of memorial jewelry. Choose one of our photo engraved jewelry options for a beautiful and unique piece.
- Losing a pet is nearly as hard during the holidays as losing any other member of the family. Keep your animal companion with you always by wearing a piece of pet memorial jewelry.
Share your Holiday Grieving Tips with Us
Are you grieving the loss of someone you love? Do you remember past holidays when you were grieving? What methods did you use to cope? We’d like to hear your tips for dealing with holiday grief – and maybe your suggestions will help others, too.