Turkey, tinsel and Christmas lights cannot fill the emptiness in our hearts after the loss of a loved one. A season to be jolly morphs into a dread of the upcoming holidays. Our hearts are broken. Our holidays will never be the same.
How do we cope, let alone celebrate when the vacant chair at our table is a constant reminder of our loss?
1. Recognize that the holidays are going to be painful, especially the firsts. It’s all right to grieve, to acknowledge our loss and brokenness.
2. Have a plan. Lack of a plan exacerbates the loneliness and isolation. Accept a new invitation. Find activities you enjoy.
3. Keep the traditions meaningful to you. Let go of traditions or activities that drain your strength.
4. Start a new tradition in memory of your loved one. Create a special ornament or floral arrangement in their memory. Donate to their favorite charity. Light a candle.
5. Reminisce. Talk about the person. Tell stories. Laugh together.
6. Travel. Spend the holidays with relatives or friends. Take a vacation. Go on a cruise. Travel breaks the monotony of grief and provides an opportunity to make new memories.
7. Help others. Helping others takes our eyes off of our pain and ourselves. Serve a holiday meal at a shelter. Get involved with Christmas toy or food drives. Make a phone call, send a card or pray for someone else who is hurting.
8. Give thanks. During seasons of grief and loss, we often don’t feel thankful. When we give thanks, we shift our focus off our pain and onto God. We keep the memory of our loved one alive by giving thanks for the beautiful memories we shared.
How do you cope with the grief during the holidays?