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Holidays are the time we spend with loved ones – from childhood memories where traditions are just being made to celebrating them again and again as time passes. But since holidays are for being with those we love the most, how can anyone possibly be expected to cope with them when a loved one is no longer here to celebrate with us? For many of us, this is the very hardest part of grieving. The holidays are often when we miss our loved ones even more than usual.

Losing someone close to you is often a very painful experience. Holidays can intensify that pain. The sadness feels sadder and the loneliness is more intense. Even walking down the card aisle at the store and seeing cards wishing ‘Merry Christmas Dad’, or the loved one you lost can trigger such sadness. Pretending you don’t hurt or that it is not a harder time of the year is just not the truth for you. So don’t pretend. It is not the grief you want to avoid but the pain that comes with it. Grief is a natural way to slowly move pass the pain. You can get through the holidays and find a way to celebrate those who are no longer with you.

It can help to find ways to externalize your loss, to give it a time and place. Planning ways to celebrate your loved one’s life can ease the sorrow of these challenging times and help preserve memories of the affection you shared. Celebrating and Building Memories The holidays can be particularly difficult for those left behind, but may also offer a unique opportunity to honor your loved one and keep them part of your celebration by starting a new tradition in their honor. Holidays can be special times to celebrate your loved one.

  • Hanging a special ornament on the tree, setting out a cherished decoration or serving a favorite holiday meal can help honor fond memories.
  • Create an online tribute to them.
  • Light a candle in their memory at church or at the holiday dinner table.
  • Money that would have been spent on a gift could be donated in your loved one’s name to their favorite charity.
  • Ask friends and family to share stories and cherished memories. Sharing these recollections with younger friends and family members is a wonderful way to honor your loved one, who may have passed before the children were old enough to know them.
  • Gather old photos to create a memory of the times you spent together.

Celebrating and honoring the memory of your loved one is an important part of coming to terms with your own grief and healing from your loss especially during the holidays. But it is also okay to give yourself permission not to do what has been done for years. It’s all right to take a break from
activities like sending cards, putting up a tree or any other holiday activities that may be too difficult this year. Choosing to opt out until next season when you feel more ready to enjoy the holiday may be the right choice for you. Take the year off if you need to. For some staying involved with the Holidays is a symbol of life continuing. It reflects progression from mourning to a celebration of the life you shared together as you journey through your grief toward healing, hope and renewal. It’s up to you, don’t do more than you want and don’t do anything that does not help you navigate through your loss.

Delaware Hospice can help you move through the grief process when you are ready. For further information, please call 800-838- 9800 and ask to speak with a bereavement counselor, or visit our events calendar to locate support resources in your area.