Tips for grieving at the holidays PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff   
Friday, 21 December 2012 09:49
Whether the loss of a loved one is recent or occurred some time ago, the holidays place additional demands on our time and emotions.
Hospice of Northwest Ohio's team of bereavement counselors suggests the following for those coping with holiday grief:
• Think about the life you had with your loved one before the holiday season begins and make a list of all the things you shared and are thankful for. Stay in touch with your feelings throughout the season by keeping a journal or by writing letters to your lost loved one. And remember: If good feelings come at this time of year, it's okay to enjoy them.
• Plan ahead to remember your loved one in a special way. Ask your family to share old photographs and memories as part of a holiday gathering; light a candle, have a holiday toast or say a special prayer before a holiday meal; buy a special holiday ornament in his or her memory and display it. Each family is different-do what would be most meaningful for yours.
• Change or simplify holiday traditions that cause you stress. Send greeting cards at another time of year; ask other family members to host celebrations, suggest moving your get-together to a restaurant or simplify what you serve in your home; limit the amount of holiday baking you do; change the way you decorate your home. Do only those things you truly enjoy and, most important, ask for help!
• Determine ahead of time who will perform traditional tasks that were always your loved one's "job." For example, decide who will carve the turkey, pass out presents or say the family prayer.
• Find ways, other than gift giving, to show your love. Write a thoughtful note; help with a special holiday project; make a contribution in your loved one's name to a charity he or she supported; make a point of telling friends and family what they have meant to you throughout the year.
• Give others "permission" to talk about your loved one by taking the lead in starting such conversations. Don't try to hide your feelings or strive to put up a good front. Acknowledging and talking about your grief may help ease emotions so that you and others around you are better able to enjoy the holiday in a manner that is comfortable for all of you.    
• Strive to see people you truly enjoy during the holidays. If family conflict is likely in certain situations, avoid them. Do not feel obligated to accept every invitation you receive, or to stay for the entirety of every event.
• Protect your physical well-being by building in plenty of time to rest. Make sure you eat properly and on schedule, drink responsibly and get enough exercise to release stress and revitalize yourself between events.
• Look for an alternative plan if celebrating the holidays in the traditional fashion seems too painful to bear. Consider taking a trip or a cruise or visiting acquaintances in another locale. If you can't leave town, spend the day at the movies or working for a charity.
• Seek out others who can relate to your feelings. Get together with people you've met in a support group, or arrange to have dinner or special gatherings with others who have lost loved ones. Re-connect with someone who has been special to you in the past.    
• Rekindle the holiday spirit by embracing what you have instead of regretting what is missing. Focus on the real meaning of the holiday season by spending time with children; reaching out to others who may have needs that are greater than yours; enjoying your favorite holiday music, books or movies and cherishing your memories of holidays past.

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