For most of us, the holidays are a time of great joy, a time when we get together with friends and family and celebrate in accordance to our beliefs. The loss of a loved one is one of the most painful experiences a person can encounter during their lifetime, and if it happens during the holidays, it comes with additional emotions. Dealing with the departure of a loved one in the holiday season is very difficult, and people deal with it in many ways. Some can cope better with the pain than others; there is not a wrong or a right way of dealing with the pain, but one should not hide the grief or pretend it’s not there. Sharing this grief and any other mixed feelings you can develop during these events and connecting with other loved ones to talk about your loss can be a way to start the healing process, while still being able to continue with your traditions.
You might find the celebrations to painful, as they keep reminding you of the person you lost, and you simply might not feel like participating. It’s okay to excuse yourself from family traditions, as your friends and family should try to understand and support you. Take the time to plan the activities you want to attend. Perhaps you used to be the organizer, and now you don’t feel like taking upon that responsibility and can ask someone else to take over. Don’t feel guilty about that; be honest in sharing your feelings and know that this is ok and normal due to the circumstances.
People try different approaches to cope with this situation during the holidays. Some attempt to minimize their sadness, disguising it with silence or timid smiles, but still suffer inside. Others believe that it would be better to completely cancel all the holiday celebrations, thinking they will be inappropriate. To some, managing their grief during this season doesn’t mean eliminating the pain and suffering. It means learning to deal with the situation, celebrating the life of the departed, while providing and receiving support from all the people affected by the loss. Some people find that encouraging those who struggle the most to participate in the festivities is an excellent way to help themselves.
There is not a magic pill you can take to deal with all the emotions, to heal your pain, to deal with the people around you that may or may not be aware of your loss. It is important that you allow yourself to express your feelings, and to welcome the support of the people that love you. It is important not to judge those who decide not to participate in the holiday celebrations. Maybe that’s how they are trying to manage their grief. It is important that you start this healing process by taking care of yourself, sleeping, eating, and caring about your overall well-being. You need to try to keep your body and mind strong, and if you decide to join your loved ones in the festivities, you may more easily find the strength you need to move on.