When the death of a loved one is still raw – a period that can last for years – the holiday season can be a time of serious grief and depression. And while nobody can tell you how to handle the holiday season, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with some coping techniques that may allow you to keep your spirits high and remember your loved one in a respectful manner.
Helpful Coping Techniques Worth Trying
Everyone responds differently to the death of a loved one. Some bottle up their emotions and don’t let them come out for many years. Others are very emotional for a period of time and then enter into a process of healing. Remember that you have the right to grieve and nobody should tell you how to do it. However, if you find that the holidays are a particularly challenging time, you might find that proven coping techniques like these work well.
Simplify Holiday Traditions
The holidays can be a crazy time filled with lots of responsibilities and pressure to keep traditions going. Well, here’s a piece of advice that you really need to hear: Simplify your traditions this year.
You don’t want to “cancel” the holidays since that will probably be more painful than dealing with some of the natural emptiness you’ll feel, but feel free to simplify things. You don’t need a four-course meal. Order takeout and make it easy on yourself. Everyone doesn’t need to buy gifts for each other. Just enjoy being around one another. In these moments of grief, anything you can do to relieve the pressure of outside factors will be beneficial.
Find a Way to Honor Your Loved One
Part of the grieving process involves honoring your loved one to create some sort of inclusion and closure. The holidays are a perfect opportunity to practice this.
“Many people like to incorporate some of their old traditions with a few new things,” says Susan Fraser of In the Light Urns. “They may decide to add new ornaments to the tree, or display an urn with a favorite Christmas picture in a prominent place. These traditions make families feel like their loved ones are still with them.”
Spend Time With Family
The best thing you can do is spend time with your family. When you’re with your family, you’re able to be yourself and don’t have to worry about being a “downer” or distracting from the holiday festivities. Everyone is in it together and able to grieve properly. It’s also important to note that you should be open to talking about your deceased loved one. This helps heal wounds and provides an open opportunity for healthy grief.
Don’t Feel Guilty When Grief Stops
If this is the second or third holiday season that your loved one has been gone, then don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel less grief and more happiness. There will come a time when the holiday season actually becomes a great time to remember the individual.
“Going forward doesn’t mean forgetting about the loved one who died. Enjoying life again doesn’t imply that the person is no longer missed. Piecing together your shattered emotions doesn’t mean you, somehow, betray a friend or family member,” grief expert Patricia Johnson says. “It simply means that your grief has run its course.”
You Have a Right to Grieve
Nobody should ever tell you to stop grieving. While you will move past this stage of your life one day, take your time and learn how to cope with the raw emotions inside of you. The holiday season can be a trying time and you should prepare yourself as much as possible.