Holidays tend to be family-oriented and if you’ve lost a loved one, the season can be an especially painful reminder of the death. Here are some ways to cope:
- talking about the deceased person is okay. Your stress will only increase if the deceased person’s memory is allowed to become a landmine that everyone tiptoes around.
- things won’t be the same. It’s normal to feel at odds with yourself and family events when dealing with grief. Do not isolate, but limit involvement when you need to and plan new events.
- don’t let other people’s expectations dictate how your holiday will unfold. If you don’t feel like doing something this Christmas, don’t let others force you. If you do want to attend holiday functions, make sure you know your limits. Leave early, arrive late, drive alone — do whatever you need to do to help yourself.
- seek support. Talk to your friends and family about how you feel. Also, many communities offer support groups for people who are grieving. Being around people who know what you’re going through can be very comforting.
- plan a special time to celebrate the memories of the person who died. Some families develop creative rituals like decorating a miniature Christmas tree at the cemetery, donating money to a charity like CMHA, singing their favourite seasonal song, reciting a special prayer before the evening meal, or even just lighting a candle. Symbolic gestures like these can help families validate their feelings of sadness and overcome the guilt of enjoying special occasions.
- take care of yourself. Stress, depression and bodily neglect are not a great mix at any time of the year.
- think about building some new traditions. Remember that it’s okay not to do what you traditionally do. Planning something totally different is not an insult to the memory of a loved one and can be a positive way to ease some of the pressure.