The death of a loved one brings about many changes that can be difficult to adapt to. Coping with grief during the holiday season can be especially challenging because everyone else may appear cheerful while you may be feeling sad and tired.
The sense of loss may be magnified when you realize that old rituals and traditions that you used to enjoy with your loved one are also gone.
In spite of these changes, there are a number of ways that you can still honor your loved one's memory during the holiday season. This can be an opportunity to create new traditions for you and your family. Here are some helpful suggestions to consider:
1. Hang a special ornament on the holiday tree to commemorate your loved one. This ornament can be something from the past which holds sentimental value or it can be a new ornament which best represents your loved one's life.
2. Light a candle in your loved one's memory. Spend some quiet time each day reflecting on your grief journey and the lessons you've learned as a result of the changes in your life.
3. Decorate the holiday table using your loved one's favorite flowers.
4. Cook your loved one's favorite dish and serve it during the holiday dinner.
5. Drink a toast to your loved one at the beginning of dinner.
6. During dinner, take turns sharing favorite memories and telling stories about your loved one. Reminiscence can be therapeutic.
7. Visit your loved one's gravesite. Decorate it with a wreath or grave blanket.
8. If you belong to a faith community, you can request the community to honor your loved one during a special remembrance service or through prayer.
9. Donate to your loved one's favorite charity in lieu of a holiday gift.
10. Plant a tree or bush in your garden to commemorate your loved one.
The holiday season can still be a special time of year. You can be creative in establishing new rituals with symbolic meaning for your family. Remember to be gentle with yourself and reach out for support when needed.
By Luisa Kcomt, LMSW, Director of Supportive Care, Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care.