November and December are the months where most of us prepare to gather with our families and to celebrate the holidays. For many, it is a wonderful time of the year, but for anyone who has lost someone they love, it can be a time that they wish to avoid altogether.
The theory that there are stages of grief was largely debunked by many experts in the field of psychology. It is important to remember that grief is an extremely personal experience: no two people go through the same emotions or on the same timeline.
Most importantly, it is not a linear path: one day or moment you can be OK and the next moment or day, not so much. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed since you lost a loved one, the holidays will bring up feelings of loss.
If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, remember that it is OK to bow out of any and all holiday gatherings. Be kind to yourself and listen to what feels right for you. If staying home and watching a movie that you and your loved one enjoyed watching together is what you want to do versus going to a holiday party, then that is what you should do.
Just by remembering your loved one, you are honoring them. There is no reason to feel guilty if you do feel moments of happiness during the holidays. You’re loved one would want you to feel positive emotions. You are not forgetting about your loss, but rather affirming that there is life ahead. Something that they would want for you.
If holiday traditions are just too painful to handle then you can cancel them all together. There is always next year. Or create new ones. Volunteer or donate to your loved one’s favorite cause in their honor. Traditions don’t need to be written in stone.
For those of us who want to help someone that is grieving, it can be a difficult time as well. How do you make sure that you are providing them with the support that they need? How do you make sure that you don’t say the wrong thing?
Don’t be afraid to invite someone that is grieving to be part of the celebrations, but be OK with them deciding not to come at the last minute and let them know that. Make them feel included, but don’t make them feel pressured to live up to social demands.
Remember that talking about the person who is no longer alive is a good thing. Talking about the person helps in the healing process. It honors their memory.
There are many resources out there to help you through this time. Remember that you are not alone.
At Memorial Funeral Home, we are here for you if you need support. We have staff members who are very knowledgeable about the effects of grief.
Also, feel free to stop by the funeral home to pick up a free copy of “Grief and the Holidays” workbook. We have counselors on staff as well.