For those who lose a loved one near the holidays or are experiencing their first holiday without a family member, the feelings of sadness can be compounded. What was once a festive time can be more subdued and can even turn melancholy. For those experiencing a fresh loss or who are heading into their first holiday without a loved one, there are some steps that can be taken to make the season brighter.
Acknowledge the Holidays are a Difficult Time to Grieve
One of the first steps a person can take is to accept that the holidays will be different and challenging to get through. Many choose to “fight through” the season pretending nothing has changed. It can be helpful to acknowledge a loved one with a candle on the dinner table or a special centerpiece. The recently departed can be acknowledged in a pre-dinner prayer.
Volunteer or Make a Donation
Doing something unselfish or in memory of a loved one can help you rebuild a meaningful holiday. You can volunteer your time with a non-profit or religious group or make a donation to a cause favored by the departed in their name. You may even volunteer with a group of close friends and family who may also be struggling with the loss.
Alter the Celebration
Trying to mimic previous holidays without an important person in your life can be difficult. You may decide it is better to change some things about the holidays. Perhaps going out to dinner instead of dining in. Maybe you can change the location where presents are opened. Changing a family celebration is not disrespecting the memory of a loved one. It is an acknowledgment of their importance.
Give Yourself Permission to Miss Parts of the Holiday
People grieve in their own way and at their own pace. If you don’t feel like you are up to a group celebration during the holiday, give yourself permission to take a year off or perhaps limit your involvement.
It is understandable and perhaps even natural to feel like you will never enjoy the holidays again. At some point, however, you’ll likely find new ways to enjoy it and new traditions. Thankfully there are also plenty of resources available for those who are struggling. There are area grief support groups as well as support groups for those who have lost a parent, child or a loved one through suicide. At Fares J. Radel, we even have Gus the Therapy Dog who is available to help provide comfort.
The holidays are so closely tied to our emotions and memories they can be a tough path to navigate after the loss of someone you love. Take the steps you feel are important to make the journey smoother.