Holidays After The Death of a Loved One
Losing a loved one anytime throughout the year is a shocking and traumatic experience. The end of the year holidays where we are meant to be together with family can be especially hard even if we think we’re prepared for it, it doesn’t come as any less of a shock.
So how do we deal with the dysfunction that comes? With the holidays right around the corner, there are plenty of opportunities for different kinds of stress to manifest. Let’s break a few down.
Let’s be honest here - It’s hard to change.
Do you have old traditions and just feel the weight of everything bearing down on you? The seemingly never-ending checklists of tasks to get done just so there can be some sense of feeling “normal” during a time that isn’t normal.
Take a breather.
It’s okay that grandma’s cookies aren’t baked this time around. It’s okay to not have everything elaborately decorated.
Sometimes it helps to take a step back on the old traditions we have and re-evaluate just how much we value them. It may be time to let go of some old traditions and embrace new ones, especially if you are dealing with devastation on multiple levels.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to completely disregard the old traditions entirely. Some of these can be really fun! When you find yourself in a place where you can revisit them, go ahead and look to reintegrate them back in.
After a major loss, it can be hard to muster up the mojo to get anything done.
Again, it’s okay.
Understandably, it’s hard to share your feelings when you are going through trauma of some kind.
The holidays are especially hard, particularly after the death of a loved one. It’s an extremely painful reminder that death never takes a holiday and times when you are supposed to be happy are even more upsetting.
But that doesn't mean people are mind readers.
If there is a dish that you typically bring to get togethers, or an activity you typically lead, or any other (usually unspoken) expectation that people have of you, make sure you communicate and clearly define your thoughts and expectations with others, preferably with close loved ones.
Give Yourself Grace
Even if the holidays aren’t involved, it is so easy to ride the train to guilt town when dealing with dysfunction.
“I don’t have anything together…”
“I didn’t do this to set up for the holiday…”
The guilt goes on and on and on.
The thing is, we must tell ourselves that it’s okay when things like this happen.
Giving ourselves the grace to take the time we need to heal doesn’t mean we’re being selfish. We can’t expect to handle everything at once even on our best days. During these times of abnormality, just give your best. And that might be different from day to day.
Don’t get discouraged. If you find you need to take it every half hour of the day and you just can’t think of planning, then that’s okay. Give yourself permission to take it by every half hour of the day. Just remember to keep an open line of communication with that trusted family member so they know where you’re at.
We get it. This is the last thing you want to think of when you are in pain.
Here’s the weird thing, though: when you can be a blessing for someone else in their need, you find yourself blessed in yours. You will have more hope, an increased sense of purpose and just feel better overall.
Despite the roller coaster you have gone through, you will find that you are never truly alone, even when it may feel like you are.