Smells of festive food in the air
Smiles on faces as they enjoy the merriment
Activities that fill the schedule
But maybe you aren’t feeling like it. These are the sights and sounds of special days like holidays. But after the loss of someone dear to us, holidays become a dreaded thing. Something it’s hard to know how to approach. A mixture of emotions flood the mind and heart.
There was a time when this special day meant the light hearted fun and warmth that I am describing, but now these sights and sounds bring sadness, loneliness, and a sense of loss. Sometimes it’s a matter of not knowing what to do with the special day because in the past that special day has been surrounded by activities and time with the person you lost. So let’s talk about that. What can we do, besides hide, with special days like holidays after the loss of a loved one.
7 Keys for Coping with Loss on Holidays and Other Special Days:
1)Plan for the Pain:
While, natural instinct is the put on the brakes and be dragged into this day or season kicking and screaming because it is oh so painful, plan ahead for this struggle. Take some quiet time for yourself now to make a plan for the special day. Write down the elements that are hard: feelings, specific situations, and other triggers. Now keep these in mind as we talk about dealing with them
2)Set up your Environment for Success:
Surround yourself with bright colors, cheerful music, keep the blinds/curtains open in your home during the day to bring the natural light in. This is a way of surrounding yourself with things that provide cheer to you. Then you can plan the time and place for feeling the sadness, loneliness, and other negative emotions, but you are not feeling them all the time. Studies have shown that both a lighter environment and cheerful music can deeply impact our emotions. Another way you can shape your environment is by having a safe spot to go to when you are needing comfort. A comfy chair with a blanket, spot for hot tea… You get the point.
3)Provide Specific Times for You to Feel the Sadness and Grief
Set up a comfortable place in your home that feels warm and safe. Have a warm cup of something. Plan a specific time for yourself there each day. Then sit, read the Bible or other inspirational book, pray, and/or journal. Pay your feelings the respect they deserve. You may also want to call and talk to a close friend or family member during this time.
4)Surround Yourself with the Best Kind of Social Activities.
Plan out what get togethers, parties, and outings you will do this day or season, ahead of time. Then you are prepared with an answer when someone asks. It’s ok to say “no.” You kind of know in your gut which outings are going to be the best for you during this time. Capitalize on the ones with close friends that bring you encouragement and support and stay away from the ones that seem hard and lack meaning for you. Then if you don’t have a significant other to go with you, find a friend to go with you, so you don’t have to attend them alone.
5)Have Regular Talks with Your “Go To” Friends and Family
Let those close people in your life know what you are going through. Talk to them regularly. Let them know what they can do to support and help you through this. People want to help. Often, though, they don’t know what to do. Make sure you have those people in your life that you don’t have to pretend with, but can genuinely talk to.
6)Find a Way to Do Something Special During the Holidays to Remember the Person and What They Enjoyed
You can start something new or continue something you’ve always done in honor of the person you lost or have a special holiday item to bring back memories for you. Be intentional about sharing memories together of your past with that loved one.
What do you need to do to provide your loss the respect it needs to bring healing?