Facing the holidays without a special loved one, especially the first year, can take the joy out of the season. Here are some helpful hints for navigating this time of year:
- Have realistic expectations for yourself. Consider what responsibilities, tasks, and events you have always done in the past. Decide which ones you are still able or willing to do and take a pass on the rest.
- Surround yourself with people who love and support you. Choose people with whom you are comfortable. Let them know how they can best support you. Don’t be shy about reaching out.
- Feel as feelings come. Cry when you need to cry and when you don’t, go on. You may experience sadness or anger that comes in waves. This is normal. Accept the feelings, allowing them to ebb and flow like waves coming into a shore. They will pass.
- Create a new tradition to keep your loved one a part of the holiday. Perhaps light a candle in honor of the loved one. Or you might set out a bouquet of flowers. Visit the cemetery or decorate the grave site. Get a commemorative ornament to hang on the tree. Include on the dinner menu a favorite dish of the loved one. Make your loved one a part of your holiday experience.
- Take care of yourself. When you are grieving, it easy to get sick. Get your sleep, eat your meals and wash your hands. Don’t overextend yourself and recognize your energy level and stamina may be lower than normal.
- Acknowledge that the holidays will be different, and may be tough. Be proactive and think about what will be the same and what will be different. Which traditions will you keep? Which ones will you change? Decide where you will spend the holidays, how you will spend them, and with whom you will share them. Don’t feel guilty if something is overwhelming. And remember that people don’t all grieve the same way. Talk about these changes with others who share your grief.
- Take some quiet time for yourself. You may want some time to remember, to journal, or even write a letter to your loved one. Or simply calm, relax, and distract yourself. Remember to find balance between time with others and time for yourself.
- Consider seeing a Counselor. Grieving can be complicated because of the complexity of emotions. You may also experience depression and even anger. Talking to a Counselor can help you through the grieving process. At Village Counseling Center, we have experienced and caring Counselors who are ready to help you.