As the Holidays approach, excitement and anticipation come with it. But not for everyone. For those grieving it can come with dread and sadness. So many times we hear “it’s okay to ignore the Holidays” and while that is certainly true, not everyone can allow the days to pass without acknowledgement. For some, there are other family members that need a Christmas, a Hanukkah, and a bit of normalcy in their fractured worlds.
The National Alliance for Children’s Grief has put together a tool kit for families to help celebrate in a time when no one feels comfort or joy. From American Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is considered the “season of the family” which emphasizes the importance of gathering to remember the loved one lost. At this time there is a heightened awareness of the loss, so finding ways to hold on to the important traditions or to let go of those that are no longer valid.
Here are a few suggestions:
Celebrate Within Your Comfort Level
Give yourself and your family permission to celebrate. It might not seem right, but it is important to allow your family to do so if that’s what they want to do. Grief and joy can exist together and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that. The Holidays will be different without your person there and acknowledging that can help you move forward.
Talk About Them
Use this opportunity to gather and talk about the blessings each person has received from the one who has died. This allows a feeling of gratitude for that person and what they have left behind. Everyone can take turns or encourage them to write something down, put it in a bowl and then throughout the Holiday, (or other significant days through the year) take out a couple and read them together.
Incorporate Them into New Traditions
Let your loved one still be present in your celebrations by decorating with pictures, keepsakes and other meaningful items. Hang them on the tree, and place them on the mantle or coffee table so that they are always visible.
Create a Keepsake
Decorate a memorial candle, make something out of a piece of your beloved’s clothing or create a collage of favourite pictures. (for some more ideas on Keepsake Memories, check out our story here)
One way to help with grief is to help others. Bring your family to help at a local not-for-profit or make a donation to a charity in the name of the person who has died.
Plan Your Future
New Year’s Day is a good time to start fresh and having things that your family can look forward to can help. You are not leaving your loved one behind, but bringing their legacy with you into a new year.
To further help support your family who is grieving, access the Holiday Tool Kit from The National Alliance for Children’s Grief