Growing up, I was never a huge fan of Christmas. However, my family, specifically my mother and oldest sister, absolutely lived to create a magical Christmas each year. I watched my mother and sister’s healthy competition; from their huge trees, matching chimney decorations, lights everywhere, and great tasting cookies. Needless to say, no matter how much I fought it, Christmas became a little more special each year. I even went so far as to get married on Christmas Eve; marking my own love for the holiday.
For many, the holiday season is a time filled with family and celebration, but what happens when the holidays lose their excitement and become a dreadful thought due to deep grief or loss? Unfortunately, this is the case for many of us, especially those who have lost a loved one or those who are going through the loss of a major relationship.
One of the toughest and most painful questions during these difficult times is, “How do I make it through when I am feeling so much sorrow or how do I get through these days when I miss my loved one so much?” The reality is that we deeply miss our loved ones and the holidays hold many good memories, but now those memories bring intense sadness. Traditions once held dear, now hurt to the core, because a loved one is no longer there.
Whether you are feeling deep sorrow or discouraged due to the death of a loved one, you are going through a difficult loss (such as a divorce or some other heartbreaking situations), please know that you are not alone.
Although I am still figuring it out along the way, I wanted to share a few things that have been helping me get through the season
Don’t be afraid to ask for support. Talk to those closest to you and share your grief by describing what you are feeling. Ask them for their time and support. Let them surround you with love! If you are not near close friends or family look up your local grief support groups, most hospitals will have a list of groups. I encourage you to attend them. It is okay to seek out love and support on your journey; please listen to your grief.
Don’t try to replace/substitute. Be careful about letting another person take over or replace a tradition you strongly associate with your loved one. For example, if the deceased always went shopping with you for Christmas gifts or was your date for the company holiday party, it doesn’t mean you need to find a friend or someone to fill those shoes. It is okay to allow the tradition to be a warm memory associated with your loved one.
Anxiety is real. New traditions can provoke thoughts that something old is being left behind. If you are too anxious to move ahead with new traditions, it is okay to add them slowly while balancing old traditions.
Be patient with the pace. Last year I struggled a lot with change and admit I was resistant, but the best thing I recall my husband doing was allowing me to dictate the pace. So don’t push yourself to places you are not ready to go. Give yourself time and move at your own pace. Each journey of grief is unique.
Take care of you!