A lit candle surrounded by a fir tree branch

Handling the Holidays After Loss

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By Melody Gluth

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year, it’s the happiest season of all!”

For many, the holidays are a joyous time. There’s a lot to love about the holiday season; good food, good feelings, and, of course, good company. Many people spend the holidays with their families and loved ones. It is a time to relax and enjoy each other’s company.

However, it may not be a great time of delight for some. Those navigating their first holiday after the loss of a loved one feel anything but festive. Plentiful get-togethers, the pressure to be joyful, and a season rich with memories from throughout the years can leave a survivor feeling exhausted and depressed.

How can you celebrate togetherness when there is none? There are some ways a person can cope with the holiday season when they are struggling with the difficulty of the loss of a loved one. Here are a few tips to help those with getting through the holidays after experiencing a loss:

  1. Acknowledge the upcoming holidays and how you might feel during them. You might feel sad or guilty, and it may be hard to be cheerful and friendly with everyone. That is okay. Accept your feelings and understand that the holidays may be hard on you.
  1. Do not do more than you want and do not do anything that does not serve your soul and your loss. Pace yourself, and if you do not want to do something, do not do it. If you need to say no, say no. It is okay, and your family and friends should understand.
  1. Do something for your loved one. Maybe light a candle for them, make a donation in their name, or volunteer someplace that they would have helped at. Remember them and celebrate their life.
  1. Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you up. They understand what you are dealing with and will know when to be there for you and when to give you space.
  1. Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep and eat a proper diet. Grieving is very exhausting physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  1. It is especially important to remember that we all handle grief differently. Some people may not have any difficulty during the holidays, but some may have extreme difficulty.
  1. Seek professional help if you need it. Getting help is not a sign of weakness. If you need to talk to a professional, please do so. Be honest with the professional and explain exactly what you are going through.
  1. Have an exit strategy if you decide to go to a holiday party. If things become too overwhelming, have a plan set up on how you can get out. Maybe drive to a party by yourself or have a close friend with you who is willing to leave early if you want to.

Even though the holidays may be tough, you may still catch yourself feeling better or even laughing a little. You do not have to be haunted by the pain or the past. You can still remember them and grieve their loss, but it is still important for you to continue live your life and enjoy yourself. It may be difficult now, but with each passing, the holidays will get easier and easier. You will enjoy them again.

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