Grieving during the holidays can bring on a whole new wave of emotions. The time before, during, and after the holidays is often filled with memories of what once was and old traditions. It is entirely normal to feel like your grief is heavier or has taken a step back, especially during a time when so many around you will be carrying on with their holiday plans. With a little preparation and thought, you might be able to lessen the hurt just a little.
First things first, it’s important to try and let family and friends around you know that you’re having a difficult time. By being open about your grief, loved ones will feel they can talk about it more too. If you don’t say anything, they’ll be unsure if they should bring it up. So many people who want to help, but they’re just unsure of exactly what to do. So ask for help if you need it.
Encourage your loved ones to talk about the person you’re missing. Sharing joys, laughs and memories of them can be the best way to remember them during a time when you feel they should be right there with you. By letting them know you’re comfortable with speaking about the person you’ve lost, they’ll become more comfortable sharing positive memories with you to help lift everyone’s spirits.
We love the idea of creating a memory jar by having everyone write down their favorite holiday memory of the person who’s passed. These can be read aloud with each other, or saved to be read later. Lighting a candle at the dinner table for them and having a moment of silence or saying a prayer is a great way to include them in the meal.
Find ways to remember them and feel close to them. Consider making their favorite dish or dessert, listening to their favorite holiday music, donating to a charity they were passionate about, or visiting a place that makes you feel close to them. Even getting a group of friends together to volunteer somewhere they would have loved can help you feel a connection to them in a new way.
Finally, let yourself experience happiness and joy when you feel it. Those little moments can sneak up on you and leave you feeling guilty. But try to enjoy them when you can. The holidays will likely always be harder than most other days, but hopefully, in time you can start to enjoy new traditions and moments of peace in the holidays and imagine how happy that would have made your loved one.