The First Holiday After Losing a Loved One

Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Annual holidays such as Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza and New Year's Day can be a very difficult time when you've recently lost a loved one. Watching others celebrate, and memories of happy holidays together with friends and families can amplify the pain of our loss.

The first round of holidays after losing a loved one is usually the most difficult. It also leaves the bereaved with having to develop new traditions and rituals.

The most important thing to understand is that while it will be difficult, sometimes the anticipation of the holiday is worse than the day itself. Acknowledging the difficulty in handling the holidays without your loved one is important. Give yourself permission to obtain the support you need and make specific plans to deal with the holidays in advance.

Here are some tips for dealing with Grief During the Holidays

Set realistic expectations for yourself. Remember that this year is different. This may be the year to allow some of the other people in your family or circle of friends to cook, shop, decorate, etc. Consider doing more of your shopping online to ease the burden of being out in the malls during the holidays, etc.

Allow yourself to grieve and feel the full range of emotions. Allow yourself to process how you're feeling during the events of the holiday, from joy to anger, from sadness to grief. Each person handles grief differently, so respect your feelings and those of others. It's also ok to enjoy yourself too- feeling joy or happiness does not mean youíve forgotten your loved one.

Try not to cancel the holiday- instead create a new tradition that acknowledges your new state. You may not feel up to celebrating all the normal traditions of your holiday- and thatís ok. It's also important not to isolate yourself. Balance time spent remembering old times with planned activities that include others. Some new traditions may include:

- Create a memory box filled with photos of a loved one or written memory from family and friends.
- Place a commemorative ornament on a Christmas tree
- Dedicate one of the Chanukah candles to your loved one
- Plan a meal with some of your loved one's favorite foods

Surround yourself with supportive people. Whether you choose to grieve in solitude or with others, it's important to plan some activities this holiday season with supportive people. You can remember your loved one, grieve together, or even share some uplifting or humorous memories of your loved one together.

It's important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. The best way to deal with the first holiday season after the passing of a loved one is to take care of yourself, plan ahead, take it easier than normal and with support from others.

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