Coping with the Holidays

The holidays can be stressful and overwhelming even in the best of times. When we’re grieving, however, they can feel like a minefield with painful reminders of our loss everywhere. We may also feel very out of sync with the rest of the world, as everyone else seems to be celebrating, joyful, and surrounded by loved ones.

We may also feel pressured to maintain traditions or participate in events that no longer feel “right” to us. It is important to give ourselves permission to do things differently, to create new rituals and traditions that do feel right to us in the wake of our loss, and even to find some enjoyment in the holiday season.

Below are some ideas that you and your family might consider as you navigate the holidays, as well as some suggestions on how to remember your loved one throughout the season. For more ideas and support, please join us at our Coping With the Holidays workshop on Monday, November 18th.

  1. Make an ornament or decoration in memory of your loved one. Once constructed, the family may hang it together and talk about cherished memories of that special person.
  2. Cook a dish that your family member enjoyed, or cooked frequently. This activity can be used as an opportunity to discuss how your family is feeling about the loss and memories of when you shared this dish together.
  3. Recognize traditions you want to keep and what new traditions you would like to create. Talk with your family and kids about how the holidays may change and work together to create new traditions that can commemorate your loved one. Though your loved ones may not be with you physically, they can still be part of your holiday in a special way.
  4. Place a lighted candle at the dinner table and saw a few words of remembrance.
  5. Keep an object or stuffed animal that they loved with you while you cook, have dinner, open presents, or any other meaningful activity.
  6. Make a donation to a cause in memory of the person that died.
  7. Create a blessings box. Sit in a circle, or at dinner, and talk about the blessings you have received from your loved one. Take turns writing your blessings on a piece of paper and placing them in a box or a bowl. Blessings could be shared all together or kept for another holiday in the future.
  8. Take turns sharing a silly memory of your loved one.
  9. Create memory candles. Decorate the glass with words/phrases, pictures, and/or any other decoration that remind you of your loved one. Light this candle during the holidays as a way to remember your loved ones. Choose a scent that is meaningful to your loved one or reminds you on them.
  10. Create a collage book. Make a scrapbook of all of the previous holidays you had spent with your loved one. Look back at the cherished memories you have during difficult times on that holiday.
  11. If talking about your loved one feels scary or you may not know where to begin, use a conversation starter jar. Create a jar filled with prompts that can assist with the sharing of memories and read them during dinner.
  • Ex. What is your favorite memory of _____?, What was their favorite holiday tradition?, Who in the family has the most similar personality to them?, etc.

Sources:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/coping-with-grief-and-loss-during-the-holidays-201112244028

https://whatsyourgrief.com/holiday-grief-activity-for-kids-teens/

https://www.mentalhelp.net/blogs/facing-grief-and-loss-during-the-holidays/

https://childrengrieve.org/resources/holiday-toolkit

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