Anticipation of the holidays without your loved one is often harder than the actual holiday season. The first few years are usually the most difficult, but even many years later, the pain and sadness surface during this season. As you experience those normal emotions of remembrance of times shared, you might wish to skip the season completely. While others are celebrating, you might feel there is no joy in celebrating.
It can be challenging to get through the holiday season when one is heartbroken from the death of a loved one. This is a time to honor and remember our loved ones. It is also a time to remember our own needs, as we seek meaning and gratitude in our new life going forward. During this time, remember to be patient with yourself and be realistic of your expectations. As you grieve, make every effort to soften that mental picture of how things “ought” to be. As you celebrate the holiday season, listen to your heart and be careful not to overextend yourself.
Here are a few suggestions to help you as you begin to blend old holiday traditions with new traditions:
• Purchase or make a new holiday ornament or trinket. Place the new ornament or trinket next to your loved one’s favorite one. Place this on your holiday tree or a special place in your home.
• If you usually decorate the tree in the living room, still decorate the tree, but maybe place it in the den instead.
• If you had a special dinner on Christmas Day, maybe have the special dinner on Christmas Eve instead, with a special place setting at the table in memory of your loved one.
• If you usually shopped together to purchase gifts for each other, purchase a gift in memory of your loved one and give it to someone else.
• Choose a favorite activity that your loved one enjoyed, i.e., sports, baking, etc. Select one day during the holiday season that you will do this activity, even if this is an activity that you never participated in before.
• Get creative as you find your own unique ways to show tribute to your loved one and gratitude for your own life, the memories created, and the lessons learned.
An activity that I always suggest is to do something that you have never done before, but maybe always wanted to do. Choose an activity that will force you to step outside of your comfort zone when doing so. This will not only help you with beginning new traditions, but will boost your confidence and belief in yourself as you find meaning and gratitude in your new life.