The holidays can be a wonderful time of year for many as people begin to accessorize their homes with festive decorations for the season. For a person who is grieving perhaps this is a more difficult time. Grief is bad enough, but it can be magnified when the holiday approaches. As we think of this moment, it is usually filled with reminders of the one you lost. You’re surrounded by others who have their loved ones with them and are celebrating a season of joy and togetherness.
Many people may question the holidays and wonder how to celebrate them. Often people may question if they should continue to keep the same traditions, start new ones, go on vacations instead of their traditional holiday plans or perhaps do nothing.
There is no right or wrong answer. The truth is whatever you and your family decide is the correct answer for you and this year. It is important to recognize that every family member has their own unique grief experience. No one way is right or wrong. No matter what you decide, it is okay. Have the discussions with your supportive people who can help you decide what may be the best answer for the holiday season.
When planning for the holidays it can be helpful to remind yourself that this year is different. Determine if you can still handle past traditions and expectations. Assess the events and tasks of celebrating and ask yourself if you want to continue them. Perhaps consider identifying some coping skills to use whether you are at home or at a social function. This can be helpful if the grief hits you unexpectedly. Some examples of coping skills are deep breathing exercises, taking a walk, listening to music, journaling, practicing mindfulness, and saying positive affirmations. And most importantly to be kind to yourself. Remember that you are human, we all do the best we can in any given circumstance. I wish you the best holiday season that works for you.
Lauren Jukofsky, LCSW – COPE Support Group Facilitator