Dealing with the loss of a loved one can make the holiday season difficult. It can be hard to find joy or feel like having fun, and sometimes it can feel like having fun is a betrayal to the person who has passed away. Here are some ways to prepare for the holiday season and still find some enjoyment, while also allowing yourself space to grieve:
1.) Allow some space by setting some boundaries
Set boundaries and allow yourself space to grieve. It’s okay to say no if something feels like too much, and it can be helpful to have a plan for how long you want to stay at an event and have an exit strategy if you start to feel overwhelmed. You can also choose to do events that help you honor your loved one or process your grief, or you can start a new tradition with your family or maintain old traditions that are important to you. Let your family and friends know how they can support you.
2.) Focus on what you can control
Focus on what you can control. The holidays can be overwhelming, with all the holiday music, gift shopping, and anticipation. Recognize what you can do to lessen the heartache, like limiting your decorations or shopping online. Remember that others may be unaware of your pain and are just going through the motions of the holiday season.
3.) Utilize a support system
Utilize a support system. Grief can be a very private and isolating experience, so finding a support group at a local church or hospital can be helpful. Knowing that other people are experiencing similar feelings and learning coping skills from them can be freeing.
4.) Prepare for others who may also be grieving the loss
Prepare for others who may also be grieving. You may come into contact with people who you haven’t seen since the service for your loved one, and they may also be grieving. Be prepared for them to want to know how you are doing and to share their own experiences with you. You don’t have to provide support for them, and it’s okay to say if you’re not ready to talk about your grief yet.
5.) Do something to honor your loved one publicly
Do something to honor your loved one publicly. Honoring the person who has passed can be a way to feel their presence during the holiday season. You can donate toys in their name to a children’s hospital or foster care program, give money to a favorite organization they supported, or volunteer with that organization. Many churches also have candle-lighting ceremonies for lost loved ones, and you can keep a candle lit in your own home in their honor.
6.) Seek help
Seek help. It can be helpful to talk to a therapist or counselor about your grief and learn coping skills for when it feels overwhelming. Grief is a lonely process, but you don’t have to go through it alone.