Grief is difficult no matter what, but the holidays can make the pain of losing a loved one that much more pronounced. The idea of “celebrating” without them can seem unfathomable. But if you’re dreading the holidays because you’re grieving a lost loved one, have hope. Here are some tips that may help you endure, and hopefully even enjoy, the holiday season.
- Do Something Different
You don’t have to do everything exactly as you would have in years prior if it just doesn’t feel right anymore. The death of a loved one can leave a gaping hole in your heart and in the traditions you once upheld. So change it up! Give up hosting the holiday—or take over and make it a big to-do; do whatever feels right to you. But if you’re considering skipping the holiday altogether, don’t. It might seem like you don’t have the strength to handle it, but gathering with people who were connected with the person you’re grieving may be just what you need most.
- Light a Candle
Candles symbolize light in the darkness of life and are often lit in honor of those we’ve lost. You can light a special candle to burn throughout a holiday meal or place an electric candle in your window permanently. A quiet, steady glow can be surprisingly comforting.
- Say Something
You might consider incorporating a special reading, prayer, or toast in honor of the person who’s passed. It can be something you’ve written or a particular saying or passage that the person always loved. Chances are, your whole holiday table is thinking the same thing: “It’s not the same without ________.” So go around the table and have each person share a special memory or anecdote.
- Enjoy the Things They Loved
Bake their beloved pecan pie, play the music that got them singing, or watch the holiday movie they never missed.
- Make a Display or Decoration
Choose a designated spot to set out photos of your loved one. Or create a holiday decoration out of an item they cherished. For example, fill a favorite vase with flowers for a centerpiece, or set the table with a beloved collection of holiday dishes. Get creative with everyday items that bring back special memories (glasses, books, teapots, etc.)
- Talk About It
If you’re sad, don’t try to pretend you’re not. Your other family members are likely feeling the same way. So share your thoughts, tears, and memories! Allow yourself to feel and process your emotions—that’s what helps us heal.
- Create an Online Tribute
LifePosts makes it super easy to create a beautiful, interactive memorial for a lost loved one. You can pack it with stories, pictures, memories, quotes, videos, speeches, and even songs—then share it with family and friends and they can do the same. It becomes a permanent, shareable, update-able tribute that you can revisit anytime.
- Try a New Tradition
If your grandma always went for a walk before dinner, you might ask the whole family to go out for a pre-supper stroll. Dad’s favorite board game was Monopoly? Break it out after dinner and let the good times roll!
Donate time or money to your loved one’s favorite charity organization. Or do something for your preferred charity in their name. You might even consider making it a holiday-time tradition.
- Visit their Burial Site
It may help to pay a visit to your loved one’s final resting place. Say a prayer, leave some flowers, or just sit quietly with your memories.
- Wear Something Special
Choose an outfit or jewelry that reminds you of the deceased and they’ll be with you all day. Show off that bracelet he gave you. Choose the brightest pop of purple because you know she would have loved it. Wear your mom’s wedding band on a chain close to your heart.
Do you have any helpful tips for getting through the holidays when you’re grieving? Please share!