For many, holidays are a time to celebrate, to bring loved ones together, enjoy each other’s company and make memories. However, for those who are mourning the loss of a loved one, holidays can be unbearably painful, lonely, or otherwise uncomfortable. Whether it’s a sudden loss or a death that’s been prepared for, a passing that’s just occurred or a lonely hole that still is being felt years later, the grieving process is different for everyone.
With this is mind, take comfort that there are ways to process that grief and still find joy in the traditions and holidays that you love.
Talk About Lost Loved Ones With the Loved Ones Around You
Those who have lost spouses, parents, children or other family members tend to clam up after such traumatic events. With impending holidays, some grieving family members will bury themselves in their work, take on extra duties, or otherwise busy themselves with holiday preparations. While they may be too occupied to dwell in their sadness, The Grief Recovery Institute has found that it is important to talk about loss and the relationship between those grieving and those gone.
As difficult as it may be, connect with your friend and family during the holidays. Don’t be afraid to start conversations about your lost loved one. Reminisce about your favorite holiday memories between family members and encourage others to share. Let others in the family share in the joy of remembering family and keep their memories alive.
Start New Rituals and Traditions
Some holiday traditions can be painful reminders of the passing of a family member. Putting up decorations or preparing a certain traditional meal can be an overwhelming reminder that that person is no longer there to partake in such joyous times.
If you or other grieving family members find that certain holiday traditions are oppressive, start a new ritual. If you lost a parent, and their house was usually the “home base” for holidays, offer your home as the new meeting ground. If you’re a window, and your spouse always cooked a certain meal to be served during a holiday, try a new dish. It’s ok to try new things and not be beholden to old traditions if they cause you pain. It’s also ok to blend old traditions with new!
Reach Out for Support
Remember that grief, for some, takes time. Everyone processes the death of a loved one differently. If you’ve lost a spouse, your life may seem upside down and you may find it hard not to self-isolate. If you’ve lost a parent, you may find yourself worrying about your remaining parent. Children may have trouble grasping the concept of death, or may even seem uncertain as to why other family members are sad during the holidays.
Suffice it to say, grieving during the holidays is especially tough and it’s ok, natural, and healthy to reach out for support. Find grief support groups in your area, reach out to community members in your faith group, and, as always, you can find support from our professional therapists here at The Traini Counseling Group.
We understand that the holidays are a busy time, where you may not want to “dampen” the spirit of the season with your grief. However, it’s important to remember that you deserve to heal and process that sadness. Take comfort in your loved ones present, blend old traditions with new to keep memories alive and bright, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
May your winter holidays (and all holidays!) be bright and full of love this year. And, as always, we’re here to help you and your family find the happiness you deserve!