Tips to Help Cope with Losing a Loved One during the Holiday Season
There is never a good time to lose a loved one, but experiencing this loss at the holidays can be especially hard. The holidays are supposed to be a happy time that you spend with family and the people you love the most. When someone you love dies during the holidays, it can cast a pall over that holiday season and then cast a cloud over your celebrations year after year.
It is normal and healthy to feel sadness and to grieve your loss, but it is also important that you learn ways to cope with your loss so that you can get through the holidays and make future celebrations a little brighter. Here are some tips for helping you cope with the loss of a loved one during the holiday season:
Change Up Your Activities
Maybe your father always carved the turkey at Thanksgiving, and now you can’t bear to be at the dinner if he’s not there. Or maybe your wife always sang carols by the tree on Christmas Eve and now the night seems so empty without it.
You can make it a little easier to get through your holidays by changing up what you do to celebrate them. Maybe that means you go out to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner or you have something besides turkey for the main course. Maybe that means you volunteer at a shelter on Christmas Eve instead of enjoying hot chocolate and early gift opening at home.
Even small changes can help distract you from the major, glaring change that is causing you so much heartache.
Give Yourself Permission to be Sad
You are likely to feel a lot of emotions during your get together, such as sadness, anger, despair or even loneliness. Do not feel like you have to put on a happy face just to make others feel comfortable. Allow yourself to feel these emotions and talk about them appropriately.
If you are overwhelmed by what you’re feeling, step away from others momentarily. Go to the bathroom, step onto the porch, or even take a short walk. Do whatever you need to do for self-care.
Honor Your Loved One
You are likely not the only one at your gathering who has suffered the loss of your loved one and is thinking about that person. You can all honor the person with some special moment or tribute.
For example, you might have a moment of silence for everyone to reflect on the loss. Or you might ask everyone to share happy memories of that person. You could even do something like hang a special ornament on the tree or raise a toast to the person.
Do what feels right for you and others to honor the person and feel like you are including them in your day, even if they are gone.
Stay Off Social Media
Social media can make it seem like everyone is living their best life and is insanely happy while you feel perfectly miserable. You may see pictures of people celebrating with their families and feel even worse that your family is not complete this season.
Just stay away from social media for as long as you need to in order to take care of yourself. You might want to avoid social media just for the day, or you might avoid it for the several months that encompass the season.
Stay Away from Major Shopping Areas
Similarly, going shopping during the holiday season can make you feel assaulted with images of happy, intact families celebrating with one another. You may even see families shopping together or doing special holiday activities together. You’ll likely also hear people being cheerful and telling you to do the same, which can make you feel worse about your sad mood.
Just stay away from any areas that trigger these feelings, no matter how long after your loss it is. You can do your shopping online, or you can go to less populated areas. You don’t have to participate in any holiday conventions that you don’t choose.
Of course, you can also opt out of your holiday celebrations entirely. If your wife died at the beginning of November, friends and family are likely going to understand if you don’t want to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. Just try to create a new tradition for the following year.
Anytime you are feeling overwhelmed by grief, you can just tell friends and family that you aren’t up for attending a specific gathering. If you can be honest, that’s preferable so you get the support you need. However, if people are pushing you and making you feel worse, just make up something like that you are feeling ill.
Seeing a professional can help you sort through your feelings and institute these and other coping strategies that will make it easier to get through the holidays. Americare Hospice and Palliative Care offers two programs that can help people suffering a loss during the holidays. Our Bereavement Program lasts for a minimum of 13 months, but it can go longer if needed. The program is provided at no cost to family members and friends of our patients. We also provide The Grief Recovery Method Outreach Program for those who are interested in something more short term. This nine-week program examines ideas about loss and shares strategies for long-term relief.
Call Americare Hospice and Palliative Care today if you need hospice care in Tempe for a loved one or you need help coping with the loss of a loved one. We provide compassionate care to our patients and their loved ones.
Americare Hospice and Palliative Care
1212 N. Spencer St., Suite #2
Mesa, Arizona 85203
Office: (480) 726-7773
Fax: (480) 726-7790
Email: [email protected]