Surviving the Holidays when Grieving

Don’t expect too much from yourself.  The first holidays after a loss are especially difficult.  It is normal to feel sad during the holidays when other families are all together.

Many people advise going away for the holidays if there has been a recent death.  A vacation trip works for some, while others want to be near emotional support.  Ideally close friends or relatives should open up their home to a grieving family during this time of year.

Giving away the clothes of a lost loved one is especially difficult.  Thanksgiving clothing collections offer the perfect opportunity to face this milestone.  although difficult, it can be very freeing.

Christmas is a good time to give family members something that belonged to the lost loved one as a keep-sake.

A healing gift for family and close friends is a frames photograph of the deceased loved one.  It is also consoling to realize that the person’s memory lives on in the hearts of those who loved them.

When children are involved, it is very important to keep family traditions alive.  Consistency gives children, especially young ones, a sense of stability.  They need to know that although a  family member is missing, life will still go on as normally as possible.

It might be healing to establish a new tradition as a memorial for the deceased family member.  Consider one of the following ideas:

  • Buy a live Christmas tree that could be planted after the holidays in memory of your loved one.
  • If the person dies of a medical condition that doctors are still seeking to cure, take up a collection each holiday for research in that area.  You might also collect for their favorite charity.
  • If you lost a child, consider making a special ornament of tree topper with their picture in it.
  • Buy a special holiday candle that you can keep lit through the holiday in memory of your loved one.
  • If your loved on traditionally did something for the family each holiday such as bake bread, cook a special dish, roast chesnuts, build a fire, etc.; it can be therapeutic for someone in the family to adopt that task.  Although painful at first, it enables that person to live on in the family gatherings.

Encouragement: A publication by Angela DiCicco and Gail Signor

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