There is no perfect time for grieving the death of a loved one, but the Holiday season becomes even more difficult with family gatherings, memories of Holiday’s spent together and the thought of “How Will I Survive This Holiday Season?” There is no wrong or right way to handle the holidays. You and your family may decide to follow your annual family traditions; change them or just do things a little bit differently. (HOPE For Bereaved would like to offer you these suggestions for “Coping with the Holidays”)
Plan Ahead. Sit down with your loved ones and talk about what each wants to do for the holidays. Let relatives and friends know your decisions.
Shopping. Shop by catalog, phone or internet. Shop with a friend or ask someone to shop for you. Give gift certificates or donate to a worthy cause in memory of your loved one.
Take Care of Yourself. Be careful of “shoulds”. Try to put balance in your life; get adequate rest, eat well, exercise, take a walk, read, pray and relax.
Holiday Activities. Consider buying baked goods or doing without, using fewer decorations or asking family or friends to decorate, top cleaning (it is not necessary to scrub), sending fewer holiday cards or none at all.
Holiday Dinner. Consider making some changes: serving buffet style, eating at a different time or in a different room, going to another’s home.
Religious Services. Attend at a different time or place. Turn to your faith-try to concentrate on the meaning of the season.
Invitations. Family and friends may invite you to gatherings. Consider attending. Explain that you hope they will understand if you can’t attend or have to leave early. If you decide to attend drive by yourself, sit by the door & park so you don’t get boxed in.
Express Feelings. Cry when you have to, laugh when you can.
Ask For and Accept Help. Share your concerns, feelings, and apprehensions with an understating friend. Plan special times with people with whom you are comfortable.
Help Others. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, visit shut-ins. Invite someone who is alone to share the day with you. Provide food/gifts for the needy.
Expectations. Keep expectations of yourself and the holidays realistic. Usually, the anticipation of the holiday is worse than the day itself.
Hold on to Hope. In time, your grief will soften, but your loved one will always be a special part of your life and your holidays.
Consider attending one of HOPE’s Support Groups in December where coping strategies will be offered. Dates will be announced closer to December.