- Anticipation for the holidays is many times worse than the actual holiday. Think through what is important about the upcoming holidays and do what means the most for you. Don’t feel a need to do it all. Acknowledge and accept that there will be sadness.
- What you do this year, the first year without your loved one, may be different than what you do next year. It may be too painful to do certain traditions this year. For instance, you may have always hosted holiday meals. Maybe you decide another family member needs to host it. On the flip side you may feel a strong need to do all the traditions this year. Either way is OK – just make sure you are doing what you need to do to help yourself.
- Do something symbolic in memory of your loved one – light a candle at a meal, place holiday photos featuring your loved one at the holidays around the house, plant a tree, buy their favorite flower, make their favorite holiday treat.
- It’s OK to cry. As you prepare the holiday meal, set out holiday decorations, or go shopping, you may have moments of grief. This is normal, expect it, acknowledge the moments. If possible, don’t let these moments of sadness stop you from enjoying the meaning behind each holiday.
- You may find yourself reminiscing more over the holidays. Funny, loving memories may come up. Just because you laugh or feel joy from a memory does not mean you are taking away from the fact you miss your loved one. Many people describe the holidays as a bittersweet period – bitter because you miss your loved one, but sweet because warm memories come to mind.
- Do something for someone else. Reach out to a friend or family member you haven’t seen a while and get together for coffee or lunch. Make a donation in honor of your loved one to a charity they felt connected to. Many malls have giving trees set up during the holidays. Take a tag off the tree and shop for the person on the tag. Donate time at a food pantry or serve a meal at a soup kitchen.
- Have an escape plan. If you are invited to holiday parties, think of how you can graciously leave early if the festivities become overwhelming for you. Drive yourself so you don’t have to rely on someone for a ride. If someone is driving you be honest with them at the beginning that you may want to leave early.
7 Tips: Coping with the Holidays
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