GROG: Grief during the holidays

Holidays are hard enough as it is (as talked about in another blog) and they are much harder when we have lost a loved one! What is it about the holidays that makes grief so difficult?

Well, of course it's we don't have our loved ones with us, as most normally do during this time of the year. Whether your loss is recent or many years later - the holidays always make us think about our families, friends and others that are close to us. This is a time of year that everyone makes the effort to get together and often share gifts.

As you and your loved ones approach the holiday season - here are some tips that may help you as you grieve.

1. Acknowledge that the holidays will be different than normal, and they will be tough.

2. Decide which traditions you want to keep, and which you want to change.

3. Create a new tradition in memory of your loved one.

4. Have a moment of silence during your holiday prayer or toast in memory of your loved one.

5. Decide where you want to spend the holidays – you may want to switch up the location, or it may be comforting to keep it the same.

6. Plan ahead and communicate with the people you will spend the holiday with in advance, to make sure everyone is in agreement about traditions and plans.

7. Remember that not everyone will be grieving the same way you are grieving.

8. Remember that the way others will want to spend the holiday may not match how you want to spend the holiday.

9. Put out a ‘memory stocking’, ‘memory box’, or another special place where you and others can write down memories you treasure and pick a time to read them together.

10. Light a candle in your home in memory of the person/people you’ve lost.

11. Include one of your loved one’s favorite dishes in your holiday meal.

12. Be honest and tell people what you DO want to do for the holidays and what you DON’T want to do.

13. Make a donation to a charity that was important to your loved one in their name.

14. Buy a gift you would have given to your loved one and donate it to a local charity.

15. If you are feeling really ambitious, adopt a family in memory of your loved one. This can often be done through a church, salvation army, or goodwill.

16. See a counselor. Maybe you’ve been putting it off. The holidays are especially tough, so this may be the time to talk to someone.

17. Pick a few special items that belonged to your loved one and gift them to friends or family who will appreciate them.

18. Make a memorial ornament, wreath, or other decoration in honor of your loved one.

19. If you have been having a hard time parting with your loved one’s clothing, use the holidays as an opportunity to donate some items to a homeless shelter or other charity.

20. Send a holiday card to friends of your loved one who you may regret having lost touch with.

21. Visit your loved one’s grave site and leave a grave blanket, wreath, poinsettia, or another meaningful holiday item.

22. Play your loved one’s favorite holiday music.