How then, shall one face holidays without their loved ones by their sides? There are a number of things that you can do to cope with grief during holidays. It is a fun moment, and seeing other families together may be a painful reminder of the family member who died.
What makes holidays a point of interest following the death of a loved one is the fact that you are supposed to endure or enjoy the happy moments yet again. Striking the balance has proven to be a challenge. You have to face the various emotional, and sometimes physical, symptoms of grief while you are also supposed to make merry. How do you do this?
Below are the physical and emotional symptoms of grief that you will have to cope with during grief.
Eating and digestion problems
Occasional joint pains or headaches
You don’t have to be a prisoner of the past. Even though death does not take a holiday, you can opt to face the holidays boldly. There is no promise that it will be fun or sad, but one thing for sure, those Valentine’s day, Mother’s and Father’s day, Christmas and birthdays will always be there, so adequate preparation will be helpful in navigating through them.
The 20 tips for coping with loss during holidays are listed below.
Going down the memory lane- well it is time to have fun, who said you can’t pull off a vacation to the Bahamas? All you gotta do is carry with you that album with photos that you guys took together, or simply their pictures and have a look at them while holidaying. You could also make an online tribute to them or simply have some online chats about the deceased with friends and family members.
Believers can also organize to say a word of prayer for the beloved as the first step prior to the holiday to help them get the strength to face the holidays without the deceased.
This makes it feel like you are together over the celebration period, or better still adds up to your happy moments by going through the happy times you shared in their presence.
The holiday itself- it is common practice to have extended families come together during holiday celebrations. There are exceptions following grief, especially if this will cause an emotional outburst, you don’t have to go.
But if going for the family holiday get together, it is common to find one overtaken by emotions, excuse yourself and take some fresh air or simply go back to your home, and prepare for the next holiday, by the time which you will be hopefully ready.
Professional counselling- holidays are meant to be joyous, but this may not always be the case for every individual who has lost a loved one. For some, this just triggers unbearable emotions, a painful reminder of one having to go through life in the absence of the deceased, holidays included.
If you find difficulties facing holidays, you can enrol for professional counselling sessions for assistance with handling emotions felt during holidays. With time and counselling support, you will find the strength, courage, and reasons to celebrate the holidays once again.
Visiting their grave sites- perhaps you are used to gifting each other over the holidays, don’t worry. Go ahead and buy them a flower, card, grave blanket or any item that they would have loved, and put it on their graveside. It gives the satisfaction of having carried on with the tradition much as they won’t give back anything in return.
Sending holiday cards- like would have been the norm if they were still there, just send out the holiday cards. You can address them to their friends, or family friends or the church that you would attend together on special occasions. This makes their memories stick on in the minds of the people who used to love them too. But if this doesn’t go down well for you, there are a number of ideas at your disposal, so stress not.
It’s music time! It is time you cuddled to the sweet melodies or songs that they loved and let your emotions flow. All we want is to feel their presence or better still cope with their absence, and what a therapeutic way of doing it through listening to their types of music.
Making donations- you might have been clinging to their clothing or shoes and finding it difficult to let go. The spirit of holidays is that of sharing and making everyone around you happy. On that foot, carry thee the deceased’s belonging, look for an orphanage or some needy family and spread the love. This will not only leave you satisfied for the humane gesture but also help you in the healing process.
This goes along with indulging in activities like setting memorial funds, sponsoring a child to school in their memory, or adopting one, organizing for a community luncheon, or engaging in church activities based on the family’s religion.
Their favourite food- we think it’s time you treated yourself to the deceased’s delicacy. Cook the foods they loved, but you could also order from a store or request for assistance with preparations should you feel overwhelmed. Enjoy every moment of life, your deceased would like to see you do it too.
Their sitting places- families have a tendency of sharing meals during the holidays. While some would rather that it be occupied to avoid memories of sharing a meal with the deceased on the dining table, others would rather it be empty to get the satisfaction of the deceased still being a part of the family.
Your diary your best friend- you can also note down how you feel during the holiday as a way of pouring out your emotions. Make a count of every but if the holiday and how it felt in the absence of the deceased, a sure way of easing yourself and proceeding with the holiday activities.
Are there kids involved? If so, one has to adequately prepare, especially when they were used to seeing the family together during holidays. Explain to them why you still gotta go for the holiday even one of you is missing and embrace their emotions as they come. Don’t force them to make merry in attempts to make them overcome grief.
Instead, encourage them and let them know the importance of happy and sad emotions following the loss of a loved one, even during a holiday. That with time, all these will pass, and they will be the same once again.
Gifts? Well, holidays come with gifts, so you can either go for them or go over them depending on how you find the whole situation. Where you decide to go for them, you can randomly buy a gift for the deceased for one’s self-satisfaction or buy something that they loved and instead use it by yourself to honour their memories during the holiday season.
A gift for the deceased could be a sweet memorial poem from the best selection provided by us here at the Holy Bookshop, which you can turn into a song or frame up and strategically hang on the wall. Another suggestion could be framing a picture of the deceased, but most of all, you know the deceased and what they would have loved, so go ahead and get it.
Listen to yourself- all these are suggestions, of which you can either do all or some depending on your personality. The ultimate decision maker is you. What do you find comfortable? Go by it.
Do not let people dictate how you ought to face your holiday after the loss of a loved one, rather open up to the ideas and indulge in what you like, you can also take time if you are not ready and come back for tips when you feel okay.
The Holy Bookshop has a great collection of verses and poems that are capable of stroking one’s pain or simply being used to make your holiday experience better even after the loss of a loved one.
Food- it is most likely that holidays come with extras for consumption, not a problem, just ensure that eating doesn’t become your ultimate source of fun though as overeating may have its consequences as well.
On the other hand, holidays may be a painful reminder of the absence of the loved one and may leave you feeling like you should not eat or do anything else for that matter, but try not to deprive your body of this necessity far too long, otherwise, you might end up ill and weak.
Alcohol- believers have nothing to worry about where alcohol consumption is in question. Those who drink alcohol as part of celebrating holidays should, however, take care not to overdo it as this might expose one to harmful or risky situations. It should be taken in moderation, and not as a way of escaping the reality of the demise of somebody close to us.
The holiday company you want- you no doubt need people who will make you bubbly as opposed to those who make you search for the meaning of life. Not in a bad way, but sometimes the people around us could be a harsh reminder of the reality we are trying to get over, thereby making it impossible to have fun during the holiday. Try to hang around people who make you jovial to be able to enjoy the holiday once again.
Being around people also enables you to talk about how you feel or share happy memories about the deceased, thereby contributing to making your holiday a memorable one.
The holiday decorations- they are a part of us not likely to go away. Since doing this as per your routine can be overwhelming, you can try and limit the number of decorations needed. If you are stable enough however you can go about the decorations like is the norm.
You can also enlist the support of others in putting up the decorations so you can get some time for yourself. Another option is to go a different way by doing away with the decorations should they be a painful reminder about the deceased.
Taking personal care- amidst all the fun that comes with holidays, always make time t quietly sit alone and reminisce over. You can also use this alone time to listen to some soft music or even meditate. Ensure you have enough rest and drink water to keep your body hydrated.
Don’t feel guilty about being happy after the loss of a loved one, it is necessary for the purposes of healing and moving on. It is one of the best gifts you can give yourself during the holiday.
This also calls for giving time to your emotions when needed. Should you feel like crying, go ahead, should you feel like being momentarily alone, so be it. Take note not do more than your capability or what you don’t feel like doing even if you are being advised to do so by others.
An alternative holiday plan- it is good to have a plan of activities for your holiday, but also wise to have a fallback plan B in case plan A doesn’t augur well. For instance, if you plan to have a family dinner, you can arrange for a movie just in case you get overwhelmed by seeing everyone else minus the deceased. Just explore the number of activities that you can indulge in.
We at the Holy Bookshop have a beautiful collection of memorial poems, memorial verses and memorial quotes which you can use during the holidays to remember your loved ones.
Most importantly though, the tips above are quite numerous so you are free to go for that one which you find comfortable doing. What’s more, you can also get creative and create your own unique activities to undertake during the holiday.