The holidays are difficult after the loss of a loved one.
During the holiday season, a sense of emptiness and loneliness can overwhelm us, leaving us in need of additional support. In order to navigate these challenging times, here are a few suggestions that could offer some solace. While they may not completely alleviate the sorrow or grief, they may provide a small measure of comfort:
1. Seek out a support system.
Staying close to family and friends can help you through the holidays. Look for support groups at your church, nearby hospital or hospice organization. Many hospices have grief support teams and meetings with professionals to help you through tough times. Sometimes you will meet with other people who had similar losses, and you can lean on each other and express your feelings openly.
Expressing your feelings is sometimes very helpful. At the same time you’re getting help, you might be helping others with similar grief issues. Also, lean on family, neighbors, friends, church members and others that might be compassionate and willing to be there for you.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help with shopping, planning or being together with other people. Try to get adequate exercise and sleep if possible.
Sometimes taking a nice walk either alone or with friends can really be helpful and help you feel more tired at bedtime.
2. Treasure and cherish the loved ones who are still with you.
Appreciate and spend time with your other loved ones and friends. They may also be missing the person that has died, and sometimes, giving them support will help you through these tough times. If you have enough energy, consider volunteering at a hospital, soup kitchen or visit with someone in a nursing home or shelter.
3. Maintain your usual celebrations.
Some people like to keep their holiday traditions intact. This might be painful, and you know they are not going to be the same as they used to be. Other family members might be hurting too so don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings with each other. Some holiday songs or traditions might be too painful to handle the first year, so if you feel that’s the case, avoid that particular song or tradition.
4. Consider your options and make a thoughtful decision about how and where you will spend the holidays.
This might be one of your hardest choices as the holidays approach. Your choices might be to do things as you always have, do something totally different or try to avoid the holiday altogether. Think about your options and discuss them with your loved ones.
They may feel the same way, and you might want to try something new. If there are small children involved, that may not be an option as the traditional Christmas is something they might need and want more than anything.
You have the strength to overcome the challenges of the holiday season.
Even though you’re hurting, you will survive the holidays. There may be no way that you can make this holiday fun. It’s also okay to have a good time, so laugh, sing, visit, pray and enjoy your other family members and friends.
Try not to feel guilty about having a good time. The best gift we can give ourselves and our loved ones is to live each day to the fullest.