Coping with grief is difficult at all times of the year, but it becomes particularly significant during the holiday season, as holidays often magnify the feelings of loss. This time of year challenges the traditions that have been embedded with the lost loved one, and yet grief and grieving do not have to take center stage and eliminate all of the joys of the season, if one is properly prepared for the upcoming events.
First and foremost, recognize that there is no right or wrong way to celebrate the season. Also recognize that there will be sadness. This is natural and expected. It’s alright to cry and express feelings to family and friends about the anticipation, the changes that will take place, and how traditions may be altered or changed.
Decide on what you can handle and what you would enjoy doing. Do you want to keep the family traditions? Do you want to make changes? Do you want to be at home for the holidays or go elsewhere? Do you want to send holiday cards, cook dinner, etc.? This is a time for you to have the opportunity to do what you want to do, not a time for you to take on all of the demands of the holidays.
To bring in some joy during the season, remember the special times you shared with your loved one. Remember to count your blessings for the time you had together. Reflection may bring on sadness, but it also brings on the happiness of the memories you shared together.
Create a special memory for your loved one during the season. Ideas range from lighting a special candle, hanging up your loved one's stocking and having family and friends write notes to put in it, writing a note on a balloon and sending it up into the sky, creating a memory box to celebrate your holidays together, bringing out pictures to share, journaling your thoughts, or donating a gift in memory of your loved one.
Keep in mind that oftentimes the anticipation and lead up are harder then the actual holiday. Most importantly, take time to smile and to laugh. This is in honor of your loved one and in no way disrespectful. Take the time to remember funny or happy times you shared and also enjoy the friends and family who are with you this holiday. Remember too, that by keeping your loved one in your thoughts and your heart, they are never really gone.