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The holidays can be extremely difficult for many of us because it brings up memories of loved ones who have passed. Whether the memory was making Grandma’s famous cookies or the ritual of having Christmas dinner at your sister’s house, it can hurt and still affect us deeply after years of the passing.
There’s never a perfect time of year to grieve, but the holidays can certainly trigger those feelings of sadness. The holiday season can also make it tough for those who’ve recently divorced, traveled across the world and won’t be home for Christmas (or any other holiday), or struggle with depression in general.
Here are “10 Ways to Cope When the Holidays Hurt” by Suzanne Degges- White Ph.D.
1.Don’t completely isolate yourself from other people.
2.Allow yourself space to acknowledge your loss and the pain it has produced, but do not let yourself use the loss as an excuse to escape through alcohol or other addictive substances.
3.If a particular ritual is just too painful to try and continue this year, accept that there are limits to what you are capable of doing and forgive yourself for that.
4.Create a special new ritual that honors the person who is no longer with you.
5.Light a special candle and offer a silent or spoken tribute to this person.
6.Add a special decoration to your collection and display it in this person’s honor.
7.Choose a special recipe that was always a favorite and prepare it each year – saying a special prayer in their honor before consuming it.
8.Ask yourself and your family what this person loved most about the holiday season – and engage in this aspect of the holiday with especial fervor! If it was the lights of the season, throw your heart into decorating your home with the lights that always brought a smile! If it was the cookies, bake your heart out – even if you aren’t the most talent chef, enjoy doing something that your loved one would have enjoyed seeing happen. If it was the carols and songs of the season, let the CDs, Sirius, or Pandora serenade the silence with the songs this person loved.
9.Remind yourself that at this time of year, the shortest day falls on the last day of autumn. Winter may bring the coldest weather, the deepest hibernation of animal life, the barren trees may stand out starkly against the winter sky, but remind yourself that once the first day of winter has arrived, the days are once again growing in length and the nights are beginning to shorten. This is a magic time when we can feel the change in the natural world on a very deep level. The grief or loss you feel may ebb and flow like a tide, but remind yourself that there is a natural rhythm in life and it truly is always darkest before the dawn.
10.Honor your feelings, but don’t allow yourself to get so wrapped up in the loss that you forget the gifts that this person had brought to your life! When we let ourselves get sucked into a place of abject grief and darkness, we are sacrificing the joy that this person inspired in our lives and in others. Feeling sadness and grief is natural and normal; forgetting about the positive life force this person had been is not.
Do you do anything in particular to help cope with the holiday sadness? My mom makes special floral arrangements for Christmas and she makes special ones for loved ones who have passed. One person in particular loved sparkle and “bling” so she is sure to make that arrangement with glitter and other decorations in her honor. It’s healing to make this a new tradition because although having the holidays with her at the house is no longer available, bringing the special arrangements to the graves is still something.
Ugh, this really helps me! One of our family friends will not be joining us this year and it’s so sad to even think about. We’ll def miss her baked goodies, her smile, and just her presence overall. This will be our first year without her so I think we will see how we all deal with it. This is def a great start and I’ll be sharing this with fam.
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