Grief, Gratitude, and the Holiday Blues

Rose ponders grief during the holidays.Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Easter and Passover. Holidays are associated with laughter and fun, celebration as well as reflection, times to spend with family and dear friends.  For many of us they’re also associated with sorrow, grief, loneliness and stress.  Add the death of a dear friend or family member to the mix and holidays can be harrowing.

Grief is a response to the love that existed and still exists between us and those who have gone on before us.  Grief and love go hand in hand. Why pretend we’re not sad?  Why pretend we don’t miss them?

When someone special dies our world might seem to crumble, and the demands of the holiday can heighten our sorrow. Celebrating when a loved one has died can feel like betrayal; as if enjoying life without them means we’ve forgotten them. But we haven’t. We can mix our grief with gratitude for those who’ve been in our lives and be reminded that life continues to offer goodness and blessings.

What can we do? How can we celebrate the holidays when we’re missing our loved one?

Consider these ideas. Then pick some things to do that seem authentic to you and your family –

  1. Laugh when it’s time to laugh. Cry when tears are needed
  2. Talk about them and the times you shared.
  3. Make their favorite food. Their favorite food is sometimes banished from the holiday meal. Instead, eat it and enjoy it! Or laugh over the fact that it’s the one food you never did like very much.
  4. Light a candle, say their name or say a prayer for them
  5. Try continuing their favorite holiday activity
  6. Dedicate a decoration on the Christmas tree in their honor
  7. Decorate their grave site
  8. If you scattered them to the winds, or a river or beloved place, they likely wanted to become one with nature. Go outside, drink in the beauty and toast them with their favorite drink
  9. Share a moment of silence, invite everyone to rest in the love and care you share
  10. Be bold. Be honest. Go to someone else’s home this year if you’re not up to a celebration in your home. Or go a movie and feast on popcorn.
  11. Create a social media tribute to share with those near and far.

It’s important is to be present for our feelings and present for each other, no matter how the holidays take shape.  It’s a good time to be all of who we are. Tears, laughter, pleasure, sorrow, are all a piece of a real life. Limiting ourselves to just one feeling reduces the life we are blessed to experience. So be kind to yourself and those around you. Honor those who have died and nurture loving relationships among those still living.