If you’ve lost someone through illness or accident and are dreading the holidays, the following ideas from Mothers against Drunk Drivers (MADD) may help.
Don’t plan to be miserable.
After experiencing a loss, there is a tendency to think that you’ll never be happy again. While there may be difficult times, know that there will also be times of love, joy, and of reaching out to others. Expect to fully experience the happy as well as the sad.
Relive pleasant memories.
Instead of trying to go through the holidays as if nothing has happened, give yourself permission to remember holidays past when your loved one was happy and full of life.
Choose three memories that you like best, and celebrate and be thankful (middle of a social event, at work, etc.), concentrate on the three events that you can remember and celebrate.
Set aside some “letting go” time.
Set aside time to let go of sad and lonely feelings. This is a time for crying, writing down one’s thoughts, and even having “conversations” with your loved one whom you can imagine being in the room with you.
This can help you stay in control in situations where you might not want to let your feelings show.
Encourage your family to talk.
Often there is a shared conspiracy to avoid mentioning the deceased” so that no one will get upset.” Memories can be shared. Or, you can reduce the tension informally by bringing up the deceased’s name from time to time.
Balance solitude with sociability.
Loss can be draining and solitude helps renew strength, but contact with others is also renewing. Attend holiday parties and events if they interest you, and give yourself permission to enjoy yourself. You may feel like crying later, but getting out is taking a step in the right direction.
Help someone else.
Although you may be thinking that others should be helping you, if you go to any hospital, nursing home, or children’s home, you’ll find many people with greater needs than yours.
Pouring your love and empathy into others’ lives will help you get on with your life.
Remember the survivors.
Focus on what is left, not on what is lost. Especially concentrate on the children in the family and try to see the holidays through their hopeful eyes. Listen to others—they may have deep feelings that will be overlooked if you focus only on yourself and your loss.
Your belief system, your religious leader, community support groups, and friends can all offer help. Call on them.