Holidays can be a difficult time for people that have had a loss. There is no right or wrong way to handle the holidays. Some may wish to follow family traditions, while others may choose to change. When we are already experiencing the great stress of bereavement, the additional strains of the holidays can create unbearable pressure. The key to coping with grief during the holidays is to find the way that is right for you. Suggested ways to prepare in advance:
Plan for any approaching holidays.
Be aware that this might be a difficult time for you. The additional stress may affect you emotionally, cognitively, and physically; this is a normal reaction. It is important to be prepared for these feelings.
Recognize that holidays won’t be the same.
If you try to keep everything as it was, you’ll be disappointed. Doing things a bit differently can acknowledge the change while preserving continuity with the past.
The holidays may affect other family members or close friends. Talk over your plans. Respect their choices and needs, and compromise if necessary.
Take care of yourself.
Plan relaxation time. Do things to help you relax such as warm baths, watch movies, read books, play golf or other de-stress activities. Plan to be with the people you enjoy. Get plenty of sleep and watch what you eat. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Keep a diary or journal of feelings, and how you and the family are coping.
Be careful not to isolate yourself.
It’s okay to take time for yourself, but don’t cut yourself off from the support of family and friends.
Avoid additional stress.
Decide what you really want to do, and what can be avoided. When coping with grief during the holidays, it is important to realize that not everyone grieves the same way or finds comfort in the same things.
Limit social gatherings.
Choose only to attend the ones that give you the feeling of holiday spirit. Be willing to leave a holiday function early if you become uncomfortable.
Remember the deceased.
Make a holiday donation to a charitable organization in their memory. Share photos and memories. Include your baby in your conversations and celebrations.
Do something for others.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Ask someone who is alone to share the day with your family. Provide help for a needy family. Volunteer in a hospital on the holiday. Helping others may help you feel good.