For those experiencing grief, the holidays don’t generally seem like “the happiest time of the year”. Instead they can magnify our grief. There are so many reminders of those we are aching for; stockings with their name on it, special decorations, families traditions, holiday foods, etc. — all of those things that made you love the holidays now seems so different. Empty. They might even seem meaningless without your loved one. While everyone copes through the holidays in different ways, we thought we would offer some suggestions that might inspire you to find your own way to cope with your grief through the holiday season.
Do Something in Honor of Your Loved One
Whether you decide to make a donation in their name, release a balloon with a message, take flowers to their grave, or leave a chair open at the dinner table in their memory – find a meaningful way to honor your loved one. It can even just be as simple as lighting a candle. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, or well planned out, just a loving gesture that is special for you. Speaking their name, doing things they loved, and sharing stories at the same time can been deeply meaningful.
It’s okay to say, “No”
Some people may expect you to “move on” or put on a smile even when you are crumbling inside. They may even want to you act as if everything is the same as it always was, so they can have a good holiday. Sadly, that is some times what happens. You don’t have to do that though. Say ‘no’ if you need to, leave early if you want to, you do what you need to do. For some people who are grieving they do want to do everything the same, even though things will feel different, and that is perfectly okay too. The important thing for families to remember is not to expect more out of people than they can give. We all grieve differently.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
While it is perfectly okay to turn down invitations to holiday events that you don’t feel you want to participate in, it is also important not to isolate yourself. Find time to be with people who are supportive of you and what you are going through. Now, might also be a good time to find a support group filled with others who are also coping with grief.
Volunteer Your Time and Talents
Find a volunteer activity that is meaningful to you. You can spend your holiday serving meals to the needy, crochet or knit hats, gloves, or scarves to pass out to the homeless, help out at a local youth organization, find a ministry at your place of worship, there are so many wonderful ways you can serve. Contribute a little or a lot, it is up to you. Focusing your energy outward helping others can make a huge difference for some people.
What are some of the ways you cope or honor your loved one over the holidays? Let us know in the comments below.