While the holiday season is often a time for joy and laughter, Neptune Society understands that some families might be celebrating this holiday season while enduring the loss of a loved one. We know that it is difficult to put on a happy face when all we want to do is mourn. For anyone who might be grieving during this holiday season, Neptune Society would like to offer a few suggestions to assist with the healing process.
Take care of yourself.
When you’re mourning the loss of a loved one, sometimes you don’t feel like eating, sleeping, or talking. During the holiday season, you might ask yourself who’s going to put up all the decorations or why should I bake a cake, etc. Don’t stress yourself. It’s okay to say no if you don’t have the energy to participate in the holiday cheer.
You should not feel guilty if you’re not celebrating just like everybody else. In fact, if family and friends offer help on cooking, cleaning, and other holiday to-do’s, don’t hesitate to accept the offer. Give yourself time to grieve instead of stressing over the yearly routine.
Most importantly, give yourself time. For many, taking a few moments each day to breathe, pray, cry, or meditate can do a great deal of good. Avoid alcohol, go for a stroll, write a journal of your emotions and thoughts, or visit a spa. These activities can help you de-stress not only physically but psychologically.
Spend time with supportive people.
People who mourn have a tendency to isolate themselves to avoid being seen mourning during the holidays. But the opposite will do you good. Find a family member or friend who’s willing to listen without judging when you want to talk about your feelings. There are many supportive groups online such as GriefShare.org who offer advice on holiday grief.
Make a memory table or memory box.
If you’re interested in crafting, you can set up a memory table or memory box during the holidays. You can include scrapbooks, a quilt, candles, flowers, music, or any symbolic item that will remind you and family members of your departed loved one. The most important thing is that instead of mourning over the loss, you’re actually celebrating the richness of his/her life with memories.
Create a new tradition.
You may include this memory box in creating a new tradition for this year’s holiday. Every year, most families celebrate the same way – by spending time together, cooking dinner together, watching the children play in the yard, etc. This year, you can make something to honor your loved one. Light a candle, watch their favorite movie, bake their favorite cookies, or read a poem in their memory.
A good way to spend your holiday while grieving is to reach out to others. Stacia McDonough, who lost her husband, a Vietnam War Veteran, started a holiday drive called “They Kept Us Safe, Let’s Keep Them Warm.” With the help of local businesses and volunteers, she collects clothing, toiletries, and nonperishable food for veterans in her area.
While giving yourself time to heal, pick up a book that will comfort you and give you a sense of hope. Some best-selling books on grief include:
Surviving the Holidays Without You by Gary Roe
A Decembered Grief: Living with Loss While Others are Celebrating by Harold Ivan Smith
The Empty Chair: Handling Grief on Holidays and Special Occasions by Susan J. R.N., Ed.D Zonnebelt-Smeenge (Author), Robert C. De Vries (Author)
Grieving during the holidays is never easy. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to express your sadness. This holiday season more than ever, it is important to take care of yourself and your loved ones while you allow the healing process to run its course.