Handling the Holidays When You’re Dealing With a Loved One’s Death
 
When a loved one dies, you don’t stop grieving just because the holiday season arrives. In fact, you may grieve more because you know your loved one won’t be with you to celebrate. You notice happy people holiday shopping, attending festive parties, and spending time with family and friends. But you don’t feel like doing any of those things—not when your loved one can’t be with you.
 
At times, you may feel guilty because you don’t want to participate in the typical holiday activities. You worry that you make others feel uncomfortable because you don’t join in the festivities. If you’ve recently lost a loved one, here are some tips to help you through the grieving process during the holiday season.
 
Decide How You Want to Celebrate
 
Now that an important person in your life is gone, consider how much you want to participate in the holidays. For example, you may not want to attend the annual office party. Don’t feel bad about not attending. People will understand why you don’t wish to participate. Many have also lost loved ones dear to them and will respect your right to refrain from the festivities.
 
If you decide to go to the family holiday party, you can always leave if the event becomes too emotional for you. Your family members will understand since they are probably missing your loved one, too. Instead of spending hours at the party, go home and watch a movie you and your loved one enjoyed. Flip through a picture album and reminisce about past holidays together.
 
You’re in Control
 
It’s difficult to watch other people excitedly talking about their holiday plans or listen to holiday music while you’re at the grocery store. It only makes you feel worse about your own situation and the loneliness that’s always lurking nearby. These are things you can’t control. But you can control how much you participate in the holidays.
 
Maybe you don’t want to join the hordes of people doing their holiday shopping in crowded shopping malls. Instead, buy most of your gifts online. This allows you to get your holiday shopping done without feeling overwhelmed. And maybe you don’t want to put out the Christmas tree this year or cook an elaborate inner. That’s okay, too. You’re allowed to grieve in your own way. It’s a healing process that doesn’t happen overnight.
 
Create New Traditions
 
After the death of a loved one, create new holiday traditions. Raw emotions and sadness are forever linked with the traditions and rituals you participated in with your departed loved one. Creating new traditions can help ease some of the pain.
 
The Power of Prayer
 
When losing a loved one, you may seek support by turning to prayer. Seeking strength in God can help you overcome the grief you’re feeling. By looking toward our faith, we can gain wisdom and guidance. Prayer can also provide us with spiritual and emotional healing.
 
When a Loved One Dies from Addiction or Suicide
 
A loved one dying from natural causes or a disease like cancer is incredibly painful. But when that loved one dies because of addiction or suicide, the pain intensifies. You may struggle with feelings of guilt, wondering if you could have done more to help.
 
Or maybe you feel guilty because you’re a bit relieved your loved one is gone and not suffering. You’re relieved that he or she is no longer living through the horrors of addiction or despair. But that still doesn’t make you feel any better.
 
If this describes your situation, talk with a therapist or join a support group to help you deal with your loss. Your support network will help you understand that you’re not responsible for your loved one’s death.
 
Honor Your Loved One’s Memory
 
During the holiday season, find ways to honor your loved one’s memory. At a family party, light a candle in remembrance. Mention your loved one in a special prayer before eating the holiday meal or donate to a charity in his or her memory. These are all ways you can keep the spirit of your loved one alive inside your heart.
 
The holidays are a difficult time when a special person in your life has passed away. In order to work through the emotional pain and sadness, determine how much you want to acknowledge the holidays. Realize that everyone grieves in his or her own way, and you should never feel guilty about leaving the holiday party early or even deciding not to attend.
 
Only you can decide the traditions and rituals in which to participate. It’s a personal decision that guides you through a complicated grieving process. No matter how you decide to celebrate the holidays after a loved one’s death, seek comfort with others who love you as well as the one you lost.
--Lucille Rosetti

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