The holiday season is a festive time of year, but it may not feel much like a celebration for people grieving the loss of a loved one. Holidays are an especially tender time for missing those who are no longer with us.
With so many COVID-related deaths in the US, loss has touched many of us. Your family may be one of those struggling with grief this season. You may be asking yourself how to handle the holidays when you are so deeply feeling your loved one’s absence. Consider these suggestions:
- Be patient with yourself and other family members. Grief does not follow a straight line or calendar. Give yourself permission to take a step back and process how you feel.
- Recognize that you may not feel like yourself. Fuzzy thinking, trouble concentrating, and feelings of loneliness often accompany grief. Other family members may be dealing with these same problems.
- Ease your expectations. Maybe this year, ask for help or keep your holidays simple. Focus on those things that you enjoy and let go of those that are too much work.
- Find meaning in your celebrations. Remember your loved one by sharing memories and happy stories as a family. Include them by setting up a memory table with photos, poems, and keepsakes. Consider a family outing to a place your relative loved. Or do a project you can complete in their name, such as donating to their favorite charity. Perhaps plant a tree in the yard or sponsor a bench in a park.
Create new holiday traditions. If your usual traditions are too painful, switch up your plans. Change the typical menu. Meet in a different place. Doing something new can give you a fresh perspective and help you stay present.