By C. Scott
Feature image: Liza Summer/Pexels
The holidays are a season of joy and togetherness. It’s a time when people gather with their loved ones, share in traditions, and experience community. But for those who are grieving the loss of someone, the holiday season may be difficult to manage.
“I lean heavily on my loved ones that are still here. I also love to share stories and reminisce about loved ones that are no longer here,” says licensed social worker, LaTia Russell. “I also allow myself to feel all of my emotions, without judgement,” she continues. Like many others, LaTia has experienced the loss of close loved ones. So for her, the holiday season is even more challenging.
LaTia used writing as one method of coping with her grief. She joined the book anthology entitled, “Joy Comes In The Morning” to express her loss and to provide a devotional passage for those who are grieving. In addition to her writing, LaTia expresses that support for a grieving person is still needed from your “village” and community members.
“Understanding is always needed. It’s also extremely important that we let one another grieve in our own way,” she adds. “Grief is a journey with no clear destination; and there will be peaks, valleys, and straightaways. It’s our individual paths to walk but with guided support along the way,” LaTia advises. According to Pathways Health, there are ways to get through the holidays while coping with your grief.
Here are some suggested methods:
Give yourself some extra self-care during this time. It’s difficult so it’s important to take it easy on yourself. So indulge in your wellness and self-care practices more during this season.
Decide which traditions you would like to keep and which ones you would like to change.
Create a new tradition in memory of the person you lost. Think about where you want to celebrate the holiday. If it’s too painful to do the same you’ve always done, consider changing the location.
Place a memory stocking or box at the holiday party or meal where everyone can write down what they loved about the person. Read them together.
Include your loved one’s favorite dish at Christmas dinner.
Be honest with friends who try to get you to go out and “get over it.” Let them know you’re not ready. They will understand. Take baby steps and pace yourself. One day you may feel like being sociable and the other you may feel like curling up on the couch. It’s OK.
Donate money to charity in your loved one’s name or buy a gift and donate it to a charity they cherished.
See a counselor to talk about your feelings. Join a support group to connect with others going through the same thing.
Donate your loved one’s clothing to a homeless shelter. This may spur you to go through their closets if you have been having a hard time facing this task.
Craft a memorial wreath, ornament, tree, or decoration in their name.
Leave yourself an “out” at holiday events. Drive yourself to any parties you’re invited to so you can leave when you sense too much holiday overload.
Talk to your kids about the loss. They may be feeling conflicting emotions about the loss of their loved one, as they struggle with the joy of the season offset by the sadness they see in you and others around them.
Nix the holiday cards this year. You’re going through a lot. No one says you have to go through the motions of sending out cards if it’s just too much. You can always pick it up again next year.
Minimize gift-giving, or skip it altogether. With so much on your mind, going to the mall or spending hours shopping online may seem like unnecessary stress. Talk with family members about what you all want to do about gift exchanges this year. Perhaps you could do a Secret Santa where you only have to buy one gift for another person.
In the end, remember this: it’s okay to be happy. This doesn’t take away from how much you loved your spouse, parent, or other lost loved one.
However you decide to grieve, make it on your own terms. It’s ok! Enjoy the holiday season as much as you can while creating new memories that can also be cherished.
Writer, C. Scott, is a mompreneur, author, MSW, and freelance writer.