The holidays are in full swing; Christmas music sounds from the radio, homes are decked out in colorful lights, shoppers at the mall hustle past Santa’s workshop and decorations that seem to have popped up overnight. It’s a time for food and traditions. Everyone around you seems to be in the Christmas spirit. Why aren’t you?
Journeying with grief and loss is difficult at any time, but especially so during the holidays. Holidays can amplify loss. Carrying out traditions may seem burdensome, and you may feel empty when a loved one is no longer by your side.
As the holidays approach, keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Be realistic: If you usually host a lot of people or cook a big meal, but it just seems like a hassle this year, try something that seems more reasonable for you. Dine at a restaurant instead, or make dinner a potluck so that everyone contributes something. It’s okay to say no to things that you’ve done in the past.
- Start a new tradition: If you find yourself saying “no” to things you’ve done in the past, create new ways to honor your loved one; cook their favorite dish, light a special candle in their memory, or write holiday memories of your loved one in a special journal and add to it every year.
- Accept Your Emotions: While you can’t force happiness upon yourself, acknowledging what you feel, when you feel it, can go a long way during the holiday season. If you feel happy, that’s okay; your loved one would want you to be. If you feel sad, recognize that that’s a normal part of the grieving process, especially if you are missing someone you love.
- Get connected: If the holidays aren’t your most joyful time, seek out community or social events. Living in a smaller, friendly Life Plan Community allows for genuine connections and caring among neighbors, as well as scheduled activities with friends.
However you choose to spend your holidays, realize that your life has undergone a significant change. It’s okay to do things differently than they’ve been done in the past. Do only what you feel you can handle, don’t be afraid to try something new, and look to those around you for encouragement.