Depending on where you are in your grief journey, understand that what works this year may not work next year, or what you tried last year may not work this holiday season. Give yourself grace, your grief journey is unique to you.
For those early in grief, breathe and take things 5 minutes at a time. Be flexible, you won’t know for sure what you need until you try. For those of you further in your grief journey, understand that you are not where you were 6 months or 6 years ago, your grief is forever changing.
Here are some thoughts we have found helpful throughout the years of working with those impacted by a loss of a loved one:
  • Make plans – it’s better to have a plan and cancel then wanting to participate and having no energy to plan.
  • Keep the elephant out of the room – talk about your loved ones and give people permission to share their favorite memory/gift that your loved one brought to their life.
  • Let family and friends know that you may cry. They already know why so please don’t ask “what’s wrong”. Tell them what you need, whether it’s a hug, someone to sit quietly with you, or even time to be alone in another room. They might appreciate some guidance when they feel helpless.
  • Pay it forward – purchase a gift that your loved one would have enjoyed and gift it to someone in need, for example: running shoes, basketball, fishing pole, crafting book, music, journal, etc. Ask a place of worship, local school, or community member to help you find an individual that matches your wish.
  • Holiday displays – do you display the Christmas stocking, Christmas tree, Menorah, etc? Try it and see if it brings you peace or pain. Sometimes it can do both. You might use some previous decorations or add new ones. Remember to include special reminders of those you have lost and those here on earth.
  • Holiday traditions – you might want to start new traditions and include some old. Holidays will never be the same but there will be a time that you will find moments of happiness. Give yourself permission to have a moment of reprieve to help make room for the tears that may follow the laughter.
  • Music – change up your holiday music. I tend to listen to more upbeat music when I am feeling sad for those I am missing. Some music lifts me up while other music keeps me in the yearning place. Try to meet your needs as to where you want to be.
We will never forget those we lost to death, no matter the cause of death, but we can bring their presence (presents) into our future holidays and traditions.
Reach out and talk to someone – either a friend, counselor, the 741-741 crisis text line, or our Network.
My wish for you this Season is Hope, Strength and Peace,
Barb Smith