The leftovers have been eaten, the out of town family has returned back to their homes, work begins again… another Thanksgiving is done. Yet the holidays are not over. You cannot go anywhere without hearing Christmas music or seeing decorations everywhere you look. What was once a joyous season has become a constant reminder of your loss. You wish you could feel “merry” or “jolly,” but with a heavy heart, you resign yourself that the holidays are something you will endure… and you will. Eventually it will be January 2nd and the trees will come down and the Christmas music will no longer play.
Until then, you may be looking for ways to make it through. You want to feel in a festive mood or find ways to remember your loved one, but don’t know how. Here are a few ideas that you can incorporate into your holiday plans.
- Share a story. Spend time talking about your loved one. Recall the ways they used to celebrate the holidays. Take time at your holiday table to state one reason why you are grateful for having had this person in your life. By focusing on the good times, it helps you to remember that the pain will subside in time and the loving memories will remain.
- Cook a memory meal. Forget the traditional menu and create a meal consisting of your loved one’s favorite recipes. Bring your children, grandchildren or other family members into the kitchen and let them learn how to prepare each dish. Taste and smell are powerful memory triggers and the kitchen will give you a way to step back into your treasured times together.
- Go through old photo albums and create a memory book of holidays past. Scan the photos into the computer and create an album showing gatherings over the years. Print and pass out copies of your memory book when the family gathers. This is a gift that you can give which will be cherished for generations to come.
- If you decorate a Christmas tree (and you certainly don't have to) select a special ornament that reminds you of your loved one. Gather everyone around and place the ornament in a special spot. Share why you chose this particular ornament. If you would like, let each family member choose an ornament and place them all on the tree.
- In the spirit of the holidays, share your blessings. Buy a gift that you would have given to your loved one and give it to a local charity to distribute to someone in need instead.
- If you cannot afford to purchase a gift, then give of your time. Volunteer at a local agency as a way to honor your loved one. Even young children can color a holiday card and drop it off at an area nursing home.
- Finally, if your loved one has been placed in a cemetery, decorate the grave. Go to a craft store and make a holiday wreath. Purchase a clay pot and paint, decorate it and fill it with silk poinsettias or other flowers to beautify their grave.
Take time during the busy holiday season to remember your loved one. You cannot push the grief away but, in taking positive action, you can incorporate your loved one into the season. It may not turn the holidays happy, but these ideas can help to make them a little bit better.
Nancy Weil is a leading authority on humor and grief. She serves as Director of Grief Support for eleven cemeteries and is a Certified Funeral Celebrant and Grief Management Specialist. Through her company, The Laugh Academy, she offers products to ease the stress and pain that grief can bring. Bandages for Your Heart on DVD or CD, Laugh for the Health of It on CD and her new book, If Stress Doesn’t Kill You, Your Family Might, can be ordered by clicking here.
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