Holidays after the loss of a loved one can be an extremely challenging time. Each family has their own set of traditions and dealing with them or possibly the change from no longer having them can be devastating. It is very important to plan and prepare before the event to make the celebration as worry-free as possible. You don’t have to replace the cherished memories but consider creating something new as the old ones may never be the same as they were before.
The first year after a loss can possibly be the most difficult so it is important to stay connected with family and friends. The challenge is we seem to “not want to do that as it will be too hard.” This is the flight response that comes with the stages of grief and can certainly cause distance between families at holidays or anytime. Adults must work together to keep the family strong through the face of adversity and this team effort can certainly make the celebration more manageable. Making a list and giving everyone some responsibility will help them work through some of their own personal grief.
It may be difficult to create some new traditions, but it can help with the healing. Including the children, whether they are your adult children or grandchildren, will help them to deal with the grief they are experiencing. Support the children in creating a new memorial ornament or decoration that symbolizes their loved one they have lost. Involve the children in the processing of decision making as to what they would think their loved one would like. This will give them the opportunity to participate in the creation of new memories.
Always remember there is no right or wrong way to deal with grief over the holidays. It’s ok to be happy! Don’t feel guilty if you feel joy over the holiday season. The joy doesn’t diminish how much you loved and miss the person who isn’t there. The joy lets you know that you are feeling the love that you shared with them and they will always be a part of the holiday joy.
Be good to yourself. You don’t have to solve things alone, include all your family and it can certainly become a healing experience for everyone. I am learning this myself as our family deals with grief and loss this holiday season. I don’t know if I can put up the tree but if not then we will create a new tradition with other decorations that mean just as much. The idea is to keep the cherished things from each generation and those decorations can help with the healing process by bringing back the good memories. Grief is not an easy journey but holding the ones you love close can help with the sadness and create some type of joy in the new memories. We need to remember that those we have lost would want us to always remember the wonderful joy we shared when they were here.
Follow this link for some further advice on how to deal with the challenges of grief during the holidays.