The ABCs of Getting Through Holidays
When You Have Lost a Loved One

Alter, rather than abandoning traditions.  There is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays after a loved one has died. 

e alert to the culture’s obsession with excitement.  You can get lost in Christmas.  Accept only those invitations that “feel right”.

Celebrate sensitively.  Don’t go overboard to work up the seasonal spirit!  Ask yourself, “Am I going to celebrate today?  Tomorrow is tomorrow.  Today I will deal with only today.”

Define your boundaries.  Give yourself permission to say, “no,” or “I’ll pass.” 

Engage in your mourning.  Fully engaging means that you will be a different person from the one you were before you began.  Cry if you want to.

Forgive those you believe are responsible for the death.

Give your grief its voice.  Include your grief in your cards or Christmas newsletter.  Be honest.  Some you can mail—others you don’t have to.

Have a moment of thanksgiving.  Take time to deliberately state or write your gratitudes.

Invite God’s help.

Journal your grief.

Kids have great wisdom to bring to holiday grief.  Watch children. 

Listen to music.   For some of us, this is not our year to sing aloud.  But by listening attentively, we can make music in our hearts that we can’t get across our lips.

Miss the invitations to parties and other social events.  Some invitations will not come this year.  It will not be an oversight.  Whether consciously or unconsciously, people will create their own reality by not looking at your pain.  Yes, this will hurt, even wound.  But trying to fit in may also be frustrating or wounding.

Nap.  Never apologize for choosing what will nurture you.

Observe a quiet Holy Day.

Plan a time to volunteer at a social service agency.

Quietly worship.  By deliberately and intentionally attending worship experiences, you just might be in one of those settings where God whispers.  He often does that when his people gather.

Remember realistically.

Say your loved one’s name.

Toast your loved one.

Use your money to donate to a church or a charity in honor of your loved one. 

Visit the cemetery.

Write a year-end letter to your deceased loved one.

“X”   Make your mark on the holiday by creating an ornament or a decoration to symbolize your loved one.

Your Own Style in grief is what is important this season.  Don’t listen to any criticism of your grief style and holiday decisions.  “Come to my defense, O God.  They’re trying to tell me how to grieve.  Tell them to leave me alone.”

“Zestize” your season by an act of kindness, a smile, a larger-than-normal tip.  “God, help me to have at least one moment, however slight, to put aside my grief to surprise someone this season with elegant, unexplained generosity.”

Best Wishes

from  the Families and Staff of CITY Hospice

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