As we enter the holiday season, careful planning is important for those who are dealing with a profound or recent loss. Holiday grief planning can change the season from potentially unbearable to pleasant or even joyful.
Holiday Grief Planning
Consider how you plan to obtain additional emotional support. If being alone is too painful, invite someone over, or accept an invitation that you might not normally accept.
Let Others Know What You Need
People mean well, but sometimes need to be told how to respond to you and the loss. Out of fear of saying the “wrong” thing, people sometimes say nothing of your loss, and this can be painful. Let others know and give “permission” if you would like your loved one to be freely mentioned and remembered.
Alter Rituals as Needed
Consider how you plan to handle rituals. If you plan to keep a ritual, decide how your loved one’s role will be handled. The role may be shared among family and friends, assigned to a different person, or modified in some meaningful way.
Create New Rituals
The purpose would be to create the opportunity for meaningful remembering of the loved one, and to express and experience thoughts and feelings. Consider planting a tree, or creating a ceremony.
Symbols in Holiday Grief Planning
You may want to create a symbolic remembrance of your loved one. This can be your loved one’s favorite holiday decoration placed in a special location, a new holiday decoration to represent your loved one, an object that belonged to your loved one, favorite music playing, or a burning candle.
Anticipate Your Limits
When you have reached your limit, do not be afraid to let others know. This may mean telling a host/hostess that you are not making your usual dish this year or informing them that you may make an early exit.
Remember that your experiences, emotions, and reactions are flowing and changing, just as life is flowing and changing. What might feel right to do this year may be different next year. You can make a mental note of what felt good and what did not feel good based on your individual needs, and this is likely to change year to year. Pick and choose which of these suggestions resonate with you.
The grieving process is intensely personal, and there are as many ways to grieve as there are people. The pain you experience is in proportion to the love between you and your loved one. The difference is that the pain will diminish over time, yet the love will forever endure.
Read more from Dr. DeLong on Open to Hope: Gratitude is Most Powerful on Difficult Days – Open to Hope
Check of Dr. DeLong’s book, FEELING Good: 35 Proven Ways to Happiness, Even During Tough Times