Holidays and anniversaries are times when people tend to remember the past and wonder about the future. If there has been a death in the family, emotional wounds are left that can ache during these times of seasonal warmth and good cheer. Feelings of isolation and loneliness can be more intense. With planning and forethought, it is possible to get through these times. We hope the following suggestions are as helpful for you as they have been for others.
- Realize that this is a new holiday. It will not be like the holidays of the past.
- Acknowledge the absence of your loved one. Have dinner or make a toast in his/her honor. Visit the cemetery or memorial site. Give yourself permission to cry or to smile, as you find helpful.
- Engage in spiritual activities that are comfortable for you.
- Do things because you want to do them, not because your loved one would have wanted you to do them. Do what you are comfortable doing and don’t let others force you or guilt you into doing anything.
- Don’t wait for others to plan your holiday for you. Initiate activities yourself. Make phone calls to friends and relatives, or call someone you know who might also be grieving.
- Give yourself time to be alone. You don’t need to be with others in order to enjoy yourself. Time spent be yourself can be rewarding.
- Take time to identify and take care of your needs. Get adequate rest and exercise. Guard against overuse of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Look at the holiday as the beginning of a new journey, a new experience. Enjoy the gifts of the season found in special memories and gatherings.
In addition, anniversaries of your loved one’s birthday, date of death, or other special occasions, can be difficult and may bring up many feelings associated with grief. Some of these suggestions may be helpful at these times.