Facing the Holidays When You’ve Lost a Loved One

An article by Judith Johnson of the Huffington Post was sent to me and I wanted to pass it along to the rest of you. The holidys can be so difficult and there are some really great tips on how to honor our babes during the holidays.

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  1. Pay attention and be ruthlessly honest with yourself about what you feel and what you need to do and not do as you move through this holiday season. Whether you have other people to coordinate your plans with or are facing the holidays alone, be as true to yourself as possible. Others may try to include you in their plans, or they may not, but it is really up to you to figure out what would be best for you. If you feel like sitting home in your pajamas sipping hot chocolate and crying or nibbling on cold pizza crust from the night before, that’s OK. If you feel happy and want to joyfully participate in the holidays — that’s OK, too. Don’t judge your truth, just live it and trust your own inner wisdom to carry you through.
  2. Be patient, kind and compassionate with yourself about what is true for you. There are no set rules about how to face the holidays carrying the loss of a loved one. This is a very personal matter. For many of us, the holidays trigger memories of thoughts, feelings, tastes, smells, rituals and traditions shared with our loved one. Without this person, the holidays may feel hollow and meaningless. If possible, reach for the deeper meaning of these holy days and the privilege of having shared them with someone you loved. Sometimes we take that for granted until we lose it. So, if your loss feels overwhelming, consider transforming it into gratitude for the blessing of having had this person in your life who touched you so deeply.
  3. Take loving care of yourself. Grief takes many forms. You might find yourself lethargic or grumpy or somehow out of sorts. That’s OK. Just stay focused on what is happening inside you and tend to yourself as you would to anyone else you love deeply. Love yourself deeply through this time.
  4. Anticipate and plan ahead. Don’t wait for others to make plans for you that may or may not have anything at all to do with what you really need. Face your truth and communicate what you need this year to those with whom you would otherwise be spending the holidays. If you have no one, consider new options like volunteering in your community, spending a quiet holiday by yourself or asking someone to include you in part of their festivities. You might even take a trip to either avoid the whole experience or to immerse yourself in another culture’s interpretation of the holidays.
  5. Make room for your grief or sadness. Grief is a very private matter, and the holidays have a way of magnifying it. Welcome your grief. Your sadness and tears are expressions of the healing process of letting go and moving forward into your life without your loved one. If you try to postpone or ignore your grief, it will find other ways to manifest and demand your attention. So, be open to your grieving and trust that it is healing.
  6. If appropriate, create a new ritual to honor the memory of your deceased loved one as you celebrate the holidays. My mother and I decorated shoe boxes that we put under the Christmas tree. Each of us would take time to write little messages of love and appreciation for the other, put them in each other’s box and then read them on Christmas morning. I am immersing myself in our love this Christmas by rereading our messages and adding new notes of appreciation for my mother’s love. By putting the names of people who have loved me on the tags of all the presents I have bought myself, I am also remembering them and surrounding myself with their love this Christmas.
  7. Remember that the holidays will pass. Chances are they will present challenges. Rise to the occasion and take good care of your sweet self.

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For the full article, please click here.


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