Ah yes. The holiday season is upon us once again. For me, I find the holidays especially difficult because it makes me miss Jen the most. However, heading into my 6th season (holy moly!) without her, I’ve learned a few things.
Just because these things work for me, doesn’t necessarily mean they will work for you (but I do hope they help in even the slightest way):
1.) Honor Past Traditions…
The holidays are full of traditions, and things that are important to you and your family. And the first few years after a loss are hard, because now the traditions are different. However, I found it helpful to try and honor those traditions as best as possible. It will be difficult, but I think it would be even more upsetting if you didn’t do them at all. Sometimes a sense of normalcy can help.
2.) … But It’s Okay to Make New Traditions
Things will be different. Things will be strange. Things will seem off. And that’s okay. You and your family can create new traditions to honor your loved one in a way that works for you. Maybe you have new special decorations you hang in honor of your loved one, or maybe you bake a new special dish because you know your loved one would enjoy it. I always try to find ornaments or trinkets that remind me of Jen, and decorate them around the house. The first Christmas after Jen passed away, I made a new Christmas Tree topper named Angie, and now our Christmas tree has two angels on it. That is our family’s new tradition.
3.) Don’t Be Afraid to Say Their Name
Ever get that feeling that there is an elephant in the room, but no one wants to address it? That feeling can quickly creep up when everyone is sitting around the Thanksgiving table, and everyone is missing your loved one, but no one says anything. This can be even more awkward when you have guests over who don’t know how to approach the subject. I found that by just saying their name, or telling stories about your loved one can help lighten the mood (as odd as it sounds), and lets everyone have a collective sigh of relief. If you and your family feel comfortable, maybe share a story from holidays past where your loved one did something funny, or something you will always remember.
4.) Take Time If You Need It
Feeling overwhelmed? Anxious? Upset? It is easy to feel that way during the holidays without grieving, and those feelings can be multiplied when you’re missing someone you love. It’s helpful to identify when you are feeling upset, and take some well deserved me-time to relax and collect your thoughts. I found that quiet trips to Starbucks for a warm latte would sooth my soul, or work on mindless crafts. I’m a sucker for all the holiday crafts targeted for kids; I find them relaxing, comforting, and reminds me of a simpler time.
The holidays can bring out a lot of feelings; both joyous and sad ones. However, I find that if you have a game plan in place, it can help you manage them and enjoy the season as best as you can.