Christmas decorations on a front lawn

Facing and Managing Grief Over the Loss of a Loved One During the Holiday Season

Halloween.

Thanksgiving.

Chanukkiah.

Christmas.

Kwanza.

New Year’s Eve.

The late fall and winter months are awash in holidays that are intended to be joyously celebrated. At least that is the consistent cliché surrounding these key calendar dates.

The reality is that many people enter the fall and wintertime holiday season facing a myriad of different types of emotions that are not celebratory. As a result of life circumstances, a good number of people find themselves laboring under anxiety and depression during the holiday season. Indeed, some people find themselves burdened by grief as a result of the death of a family member or other loved one. This may even be the sudden or traumatic death of a person dear to you.

If you’re grieving the loss of a loved one this holiday season, above all bear in mind that you are most definitely not alone. In addition, many, many people have also trekked through the holidays as they grieved the death of a special person in their lives. Consequently, because of the experience of these grieving people, there are some ways in which you cannot only handle grief during the holidays, but you can use the time of year as an aid in effectively addressing the grieving process.

In addition, you can include the memory of your lost loved one into the holiday season itself. You can create special moments during the holidays based on your own unique memories of your loved one.

Your Grief & The Holidays:  It’s Your Call

The most important fact that you must bear in mind if you are grieving during the holiday season is that all people grieve in their own unique ways. Because your manner of experiencing and approaching grief is uniquely your own, the way in which you elect to involve yourself in the holiday season is your call. In the same way, no one can tell you how you should grieve, no one else can direct what you do and do not do during the fall and wintertime holidays.

When it comes to broadly approaching the holiday season while you grieve, there is a trio of broad options available to you. First, you can elect to carry on the same traditions you enjoyed when your deceased loved one was still with you in life. Some people do find comfort in maintaining the same holiday traditions enjoyed when a lost loved one was still alive.

Second, you can elect to forgo celebrating the holidays altogether. Be prepared for some proverbial “blowback” from well-meaning people in your life. They are likely to attempt to entice you to join them in the season more directly.

If this is not what you want to do this holiday season, you must only tell people in your life that you are not up to a “traditional” celebration of the holidays this year. If you’re direct and deliberate in the manner in which you convey this decision to others, nearly all people in your life will be quick to honor your desires.

Finally, there is a middle course you can take to involve yourself in the holiday season while you grieve the loss of a loved one. You can alter the manner in which you celebrate the holidays.

Like many people, you may find following the same seasonal traditional especially painful in the aftermath of the death of a loved one. Taking different approaches to celebrate the season may contribute to easing the level of grief you experience during the holiday season after the passing of a family member or other loved one.

Develop a Plan A, Plan B … and a Plan C

When it comes to specific holiday celebrations – like a family Thanksgiving dinner – you are best served to have a specific plan and then developing a backup plan … and a backup to the backup. For example, in advance of the family Thanksgiving gathering, you may make the decision that this event “sounds good to you,” even as you grieve. However, as the event approaches, or even on the day of the gathering, you may change your mind and not want to gather for dinner.

Because this change of mind is a possibility, you best serve yourself by having an alternative plan in place. Perhaps you have a friend who will be available to “hang out” at your home for a very lowkey Thanksgiving celebration. That may be the perfect Plan B. You may want to consider extending this out a step further with a Plan C in the event your second plan doesn’t fit your mood or desires or if Plan B isn’t available to you for some unforeseen reason.

Include Your Deceased Loved One in the Holidays

Another way in which you can face grief during the holidays is to come up with simple ways in which you can include your deceased loved one’s memory in the season itself. There are a variety of different types of things that you can do to include your deceased family member or friend in the season. For example, you can obtain a larger candle and light it throughout the holiday season in honor or memory of your departed loved one.

At a family celebration, have those in attendance share a light-hearted or interesting story about the person who has passed. Even something as memorializing your loved one in a prayer before a meal can be an ideal way of including the memory of the person who passed into the seasonal celebration. These and other similar steps can also work to ease your grief during the holiday season.

As mentioned at the outset, we all grieve differently. As a result, you are not obliged to grieve in a manner dictated by anyone else. Similarly, you are entitled to celebrate the holiday season in your own unique manner.

Photo Courtesy of My Photo Journeys.