My family is big. We laugh at with and at each other. We are close; finding any reason to come together to celebrate and eat. Because of the closeness of my family the loss of a loved one is felt deeply, and the holidays are a time where that loss is felt the most.
My Gramps passed away in April of 2016. During the holidays he was always the one with the video camera documenting the unwrapping of every gift. We would sit and eat ice cream together, sneaking some to the dogs. I miss him so much. The first Thanksgiving and Christmas without him were hard, but my family still came together. We laughed, we ate, and we celebrated life and each other like before.
The holidays can be stressful, and adding grief to that stress can be overwhelming. We are reminded of all the good memories we shared, and we can see and feel how much our lives have changed since our loved one’s passing. So how do we cope in the holidays; how do we find that joy that this season brings?
Surround yourself with loved ones that can lift you up and support you. Be honest with your family and friends about how you feel. Allow them to build you up as you remember the wonderful holidays you’ve had in the past, enjoy the present day, and look forward to the memories you will make in the future.
Allow yourself to feel. Feel happy, sad...give yourself room to grieve. Cry, Laugh; feeling the feelings as they come.
Take care of yourself: practice yoga, meditate or pray, go for a walk. Journal about your feelings. Draw or paint.
I can now look back and smile at the holidays I shared with my Gramps. I can watch those old movies and allow myself to cry and to smile. I can eat ice cream, and maybe add an extra scoop for him. You will find joy again, and know that you are loved.
Namaste and Happy Holidays
Books for further reading:
James Miller, How Will I Get Through the Holidays? Twelve Ideas for Those Whose Loved One Has Died
Drs. Clarence Tucker and Cliff Davis, Holiday Blues—A Self-Help Manual on Grief Through the Holidays