Holidays and Special Days

Holidays and Special Days

Much has been written about dealing with holidays and other special days of the year after there has been a death among family or close friends.  Here are some ideas for preparing for the special days of the year.

Because holidays are usually hectic, emotional, tied to tradition and times for togetherness, the absence of a loved one can seem an enormous part of the day or season.   How to cope with this hole in the holiday?  How to muddle through when others are being festive?

For some, doing the traditional tasks and meals and togetherness brings a sense of reassurance and comfort.  For others, the idea of doing everything as it’s been done for years is impossible in the aftermath of tragedy.  Any of these reactions are normal - and it’s best if family and friends can talk and plan what to do - or not to do - this year.  It may be tempting to think that the holidays will “just go away” this year, since little about life may seem celebratory.  But life is going on despite grief and mourning, and it’s best to plan something, rather than allow well-meaning family and friends to decide for you.

Some families include the deceased loved one by lighting a candle or displaying a cherished item that belonged to the person.  Some may intentionally leave an empty place at the table - if it’s not intentional, however, the empty chair can be a horrible reminder of the loss.

You may wish to be with family and friends during holidays and special days or you might be better off going away, if a different environment is needed.  It’s also helpful to know that the days and weeks of anticipation leading up to a special day or holiday are often worse than the day itself.  

Communicate what you and your family need to extended family and friends.

Do you need to talk about your dead loved one?  Then let others around you know that even though you may cry, to not mention the person’s name at all seems like another death.

What to do about already-purchased gifts or with the money set aside for a gift?  Perhaps donating the gift or money in memory of the person will help to make some meaning from the loss.

Take one day at a time, be realistic, know and discuss your limitations, and plan what you can for days that bring back memories that may seem painful in the aftermath of a death.

Distributed by The Link Counseling Center, 348 Mt. Vernon Hwy. NE, Atlanta, GA 30328
Reprinted with Permission

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