Sunday, November 30, 2008

Surviving Holiday Grief

Holidays are a difficult time for those of us who are grieving. We all have an expectation of happiness and joy during the holidays that may be difficult to achieve even during the best of times. When we are grieving, this can be complicated even further. Sometimes we don't feel like celebrating with a deep loss in our thoughts. Sometimes we'd like to join in the festivities, but can't enjoy them. Sometimes the absence of our loved one and the void they have left in holiday traditions make these days almost unbearable.

Here are some suggestions for surviving the holidays:

1. Start a new tradition
Take some special time together as a family or group of friends to remember the person you miss. Stories help to keep their memory alive and keep them a part of your holiday traditions. Something wonderful also happens when you share these stories. Because we all know a different part of a person, we have different stories and memories. When we share them we can all learn something new about the person we love- what a wonderful holiday gift!

2. Revive an old tradition

Did mom always make cookies for Christmas? You might not make them as well as she did, but picking up that tradition and carrying it on can be healing and meaningful for you and the rest of the family. The tradition you choose to revive can be small and quirky or more elaborate, but don't try to take too much on at once. The point is to enjoy it and to keep the gift alive. Enlist family and friend to help you and remember your love done together while you do it.

3. Share

Do you wonder what to say to a grieving friend or relative during the holidays? Do you find yourself avoiding the topic of their loss? Here's an idea. Share one of your memories of the deceased, or tell about their impact on your life, or the way they helped someone else. You can't make things okay, and you shouldn't try. What you can do is acknowledge and empathise with your friend's situation. You can't do that if you ignore the loss or treat it like it's something inconsequential. This is something you can do in written form too. Write down your memories for a wonderful and lasting gift.

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