More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Dealing with Holiday Grief
CMHA (British Columbia)

The holiday season can be especially rough for those of us who've lost someone close recently or who lost someone close at this time of the year. With all the messages of family togetherness and joy, the emptiness left behind when someone passes away is in harsh contrast to what society seems to "expect" us to feel. Below are some tips to help you or someone you know get through a potentially hard time:

  • talking about the deceased person is okay. Your stress will only increase if the deceased person's memory is allowed to become a landmine that everyone tiptoes around.
  • things won't be the same. It's normal to feel at odds with yourself and family events when dealing with grief. Do not isolate, but limit involvement when you need to and plan new events.
  • don't let other people's expectations dictate how your holiday will unfold. If you don't feel like doing something this Christmas, don't let others force you. If you do want to attend holiday functions, make sure you know your limits. Leave early, arrive late, drive alone ? do whatever you need to do to help yourself.
  • seek support. Talk to your friends and family about how you feel. Also, many communities offer support groups for people who are grieving. Being around people who know what you're going through can be very comforting.
  • plan a special time to celebrate the memories of the person who died. Some families develop creative rituals like decorating a miniature Christmas tree at the cemetery, donating money to a charity like CMHA, singing their favourite seasonal song, reciting a special prayer before the evening meal, or even just lighting a candle. Symbolic gestures like these can help families validate their feelings of sadness and overcome the guilt of enjoying special occasions.
  • take care of yourself. Stress, depression and bodily neglect are not a great mix at any time of the year.
  • think about building some new traditions. Remember that it's okay not to do what you traditionally do. Planning something totally different is not an insult to the memory of a loved one and can be a positive way to ease some of the pressure.
Thanks Doc
I like your post
I lost my mom my best friend this past May and this will be a real tough Christmas for me.
It's already started hitting me,so I made something special to honor my mom whom I call the rose of my life.
I bought an beautiful red opened rose and a nice big candle and wrapped the rose stem around the candle.
I will light the candle Christmas day when I have my family over for dinner this way mom will also be with us in a way.
I plan to also put up a nice funny picture of mom, one that shows her in a fun and happy way so we can look at it and remember happier times we all shared with her and not so much the bad ones.
The most important thing to my mom was family, so keeping up with getting together at Christmas will make her happy also.
I know she will be watching over us on this day ,probably saying hey where's my shot of rye LOL

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