Goldblatt: How To Handle The Holidays

Bereavement and Volunteer Coordinator
Los Alamos Visiting Nurses/
How To Handle The Holidays

With the Holidays fast approaching, you may feel the absence of your loved one even more than at other times of the year.  It may seem strange to you to celebrate, in light of your recent or past loss. You may even feel it would be somehow inappropriate to make preparations for festivities without the presence of your family member, or friend.

It is true that holidays can be a most difficult time for those who are recently bereaved. However, there are some helpful ways to deal with the holidays.

Here are a few ideas:

Communicate your needs and tell others clearly what would help you during the Holidays in terms of emotional support.  Our loved ones and friends are not mind-readers or fortune tellers. The best way to avoid disappointment is to have realistic expectations.

Grief is a part of life. Simply put—it’s alright to cry. Adjustment to the death of someone close to you can leave you drained during the holiday season. Sometimes silence can be peaceful.

Allow yourself to be human—we all have limitations, and our priorities can be reevaluated and changed. Enlist the aid of others. You do not have to do it all yourself.

Replace obligations with meaning. Ask yourself what is really important to you and how do you want to spend your time? What do you enjoy doing? How can you make life comfortable for yourself and others?

Honor the memory of your loved one—many families set aside a special time to share a favorite story about their family member or friend. Some families light a candle or put out a picture on the mantle. You can give a gift in memory of the loved one. You can decorate your own memorial site (a nearby tree) with flowers, ribbons, pinecones—in remembering your loved ones life.

Maybe you don’t have friends or family—let other people adopt you. Even if you are alone you don’t have to be lonely. You can make connections with others. We are social beings. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others—they probably feel the same way you do. Simple acts of kindness will ease pain for everyone.

Everyone has heartache. Everyone will have a loss in their life and struggle in their family. It’s not about what happens, but how you deal with what happens together. Love is about people, not stuff.