This time of the year can be extremely difficult after experiencing the loss of a loved one. Regardless of the religion you are a part of, the decorations, department store sales, songs on the radio and even the change of weather can be reminiscent of those who are no longer present and can be emotionally draining. The nature of your relationship to that person (or persons) is unique; therefore everyone’s expression of grief will also vary. For this reason preparing yourself and your family is a good way to make this difficult time as enjoyable as possible.
Below are a few ways to celebrate the life and memory of your loved one during this time of year:
• Be compassionate with yourself. Although others may be in a “joyful” spirit, it’s okay for you to use this time to reflect, cry, or do something different this year. Taking a trip for a change of scenery is also an option to consider.
• Ask for and accept support from others. When planning how you will spend your holiday, it is important to include family and close friends so that they may respect and support your wishes. They may be more accommodating than you think.
• Be a blessing to someone else. Volunteering is always a great way to redirect your attention from the thought of loss to being a blessing to someone else who may be less fortunate. Shelters, soup kitchens, and assisted living facilities are always in need of a helping hand.
• Visiting the Grave Site. For many visiting the grave site can be therapeutic. In this case, having something special planned for your visit can be very helpful. Writing a poem or letter can be a great way to connect with the memory of your loved one. If visiting the grave site is usually emotional, setting a time limit to visit may be something to consider.
• Create new traditions. Celebrating old traditions may be too painful without the presence of your beloved. While keeping them in mind, find new ways to celebrate this time of year. If your loved one had a favorite dish, preparing that dish in their memory is a wonderful way to remember them. Wearing their favorite color on that day can be another tradition. Allowing your family and friends to tell their most memorable (happy/funny) stories can be a new tradition as well.
The anticipation of the holidays tend to be more stressful than the actual event, therefore allowing yourself and your family some time to plan out a few activities to celebrate the memory of your loved one offers a more uplifting spirit and opportunity to once again look forward to the holidays.
Ebony S. Muhammad is a Certified Thanatologist specializing in Grief and Loss. If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one and would like to learn more about her one-on-one sessions, click here.