As the holidays approach, the reminder that loved one(s) we have lost are not physically here to enjoy them with us can sting like a slap in the face. Their absence can alter our perception of the holidays and what they mean to us. Our minds may be flooded with memories of holidays past that we have enjoyed with our loved ones and the cold fact that we no longer have the opportunity to relive these type of memories with them can seem unbearable. Below are some things that can assist people as they grieve during the holidays:
- Support: Having support during the holidays can be critical. Though it may be tempting to isolate, keeping contact with friends, family members, seeking help from a professional, or joining a support group can make the grieving process during the holidays much easier. Other people can assist you with processing the loss or help you see things from a different perspective.
- Write a Letter: Try writing a letter to your loved one to highlight the memories that you are thankful for. Attempt to write the letter in a way that celebrates the good memories that you have of them. If you are able to work with a support group, counselor, or have someone you feel safe with in your life; try reading the letter aloud to someone else.
- Symbolism: Some people find it helpful to symbolically incorporate their loved one(s) that have passed into their holiday celebrations. For instance, they may set a place at the table for them, light a candle for them, use items for decoration that remind them of their loved one, or dedicate time during the holiday celebration to discuss the life that they had together.
- Quiet Time: Though the natural response may be to suppress or hide feelings of grief, it is okay to grieve during the holidays. You may need some quiet time in order to express your feelings in your own way. If you are not comfortable expressing these feelings in front of others, this may be a process that you need to go through on your own. Pray or meditate about how you are feeling.
- Reflect on What Your Loved One(s) Would Want: Reflect or journal about what your lost loved one(s) would want for you if they were still here on Earth. Reflect on questions such as: “How would my loved one want me to remember them? What would my loved one want for me during the holidays?”
These are just some ideas for things that could help people as they go through the holidays without loved one(s) that they have lost. There are many other things that people can try to assist them as they go through the holidays without their loved one(s). The loss of a loved one is a life-altering experience and it can take an entire lifetime, one step at a time, to determine what might help for you specifically with the difficult feelings that accompany grief.