Managing grief during the holidays
The holidays, as well as birthdays and other celebrations, are often difficult for anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one, particularly during the first year of adjusting to life without them.
The holiday season may result in a renewed sense of grief, especially as well-intentioned individuals are encouraging those who are grieving to participate in traditional festivities. While there can be joy in being together with family and friends, the holidays can also bring feelings of sadness, loss and emptiness.
For those who find themselves struggling with grief during the holidays and other celebrations, consider these ideas from Remembering a Life, an online resource from the experts at the National Funeral Directors Association.
Talk about grief
Grief isn’t a linear journey. Ignoring pain and emotions won’t make it go away. Don’t be afraid to talk about grief with others. Confiding in close family and friends can help a grieving person feel heard and understood.
Establish boundaries during the holidays
Friends and family may encourage a grieving person to participate in the holiday just as they normally would. While these intentions are typically good, it is important for the bereaved to set boundaries and focus on what they want. While grieving, one should openly and honestly discuss wishes with friends and family and clarify what they are comfortable with and have the emotional bandwidth to do.
Acknowledge the loss
Families can find ways to honor their loved one’s physical absence during holiday celebrations by incorporating their spirit into celebrations and holiday traditions. Examples of this could be decorating ornaments in ways that are symbolic of a loved one, cooking their favorite meal or making a memorial donation to a favorite charity.
Reflect on and embrace fond memories
Memories of a loved one, both from the holidays and other special times, are an important legacy. Rather than ignoring these memories, talk about them with family and friends. It’s OK to laugh and it’s OK to cry. One way to facilitate this activity is with Remembering A Life’s Have the Talk of a Lifetime Conversation Cards, which can help families share stories and memories about loved ones and themselves. It can make for a meaningful activity during holiday gatherings.
It is important to remember that even though an individual may be grieving, they can still celebrate and enjoy the holidays. Find support and resources for grief during the holidays and other special times of the year at RememberingALife.com.
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Source: National Funeral Directors Association