Holidays can be difficult for many reasons. Family stress, financial struggles, and for some the loss of a loved one bring on loneliness and memories of what used to be.
There once was a lady whose spouse died right before the holidays. She told her family she couldn’t handle celebrating any of the holidays and was going to go on a 3-month vacation. While she was gone, she was so surprised and thankful at how well she was doing. Not much crying or even thinking of her spouse. When she returned home and walked in the door, she found herself right back to the day her spouse had died. She had to start at day one to begin her grief work.
This is a difficult time for everybody, so be kind to yourself. It takes time to adjust to your new normal.
Some ways that may be helpful is to change things up. If you always hosted the holidays, it may be time to pass the baton to the next generation. Or, if you don’t feel ready to do that, then ask for help. Make time to rest and reflect on how you are doing and feeling. The more a person “stuffs” your feelings the easier it is to slip into depression.
Some people like to use symbols and/or reminders of the one who has passed. Some have a special place where they have a picture and a lit candle, others leave an empty chair at the table, others take time during the holiday to share memories. It is important to keep their loved one’s memory alive and to encourage family to do the same.
Now, not all families have happy memories of the person who has passed, which can lead to a much more stressful grieving time. In a case like this, for some families, they have each person write a letter to the one who has passed away. They say what has caused them sadness and/or anger. After everyone has written their letter they are collected and burned. This helps to represent ‘letting go’ of any hurts, anger, sadness and helps them move past and start the grieving process.
The main message is to remember to be patient and gentle with yourself. You are a special, unique person who needs to go through this journey called grief and you must do what works best for you. The holidays/celebrations will go on with or without your usual way of doing things and that is ok.