How to Cope with Bereavement over the Holidays
For many of you there will be empty spaces during the holidays that were once filled with the presence of your Loved One.
WHY THE HOLIDAYS ARE A DIFFICULT TIME OF YEAR?
- this is generally the time of year when Loved Ones gather
- we do not feel part of the celebration of togetherness
- we sometimes pretend we are not hurting; but in truth, our hurt is magnified
SOME WAYS TO CONNECT WITH YOUR LOVED ONE OVER THE HOLIDAYS
Create or find a symbol or token that represents an association with your Loved One and place it close by. For example: a candle, a photo, a flower, a personal keepsake, a certificate, an ornament.
Write a letter to your Loved One
If you believe your Love One is in a Heaven/Nirvana/Afterlife, then they are free, light, without bounds, all knowing, eternal, and blissful. Let your heart guide you as you write a letter to them; greeting them, asking about them, telling them about you are doing, and signing off with hope, love, and well wishes.
Look for connections during the Season
Look around and try to find ways to feel connected to your Loved One, for example, “in the children’s smiles, in the fire’s warmth, in the symphony of carols”.
Draw from the Colours of Christmas
Red is an intense colour that represents your power, and love. Gold represents courage, passion, magic, and wisdom. Green signifies growth, renewal, and rebirth. It also restores depleted energy and brings one back to health.
Write a pledge that lists a few little everyday things you can do ‘together’ with your Loved One.
I am part of you; you are part of me. We are two drops in the ocean of time.
we shall listen to your favourite ___________
we shall watch your favourite _______________
we shall meditate on _________________
we shall enjoy ____________________
we shall _________(do a kindness that you used to do while you lived here on earth).
Like water, although we exist in different forms, WE are timeless.
A FEW OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR BEREAVEMENT DURING THE HOLIDAYS
- allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel
- surround yourself with people who love and support you
- say a prayer for your Loved One before Christmas dinner
- share your feelings in order to get them off your chest
- create an on-line tribute to your Loved One
- write a poem for your Loved One and read it out loud to those gathered
- accept help from others
- give to a charity in your Loved One’s name
- buy and place a special ornament commemorating your Loved One on the tree
- light a candle for your Loved One
- have a moment of silence for your Loved One at an appropriate time
- place a bouquet of symbolic flowers on your table
- designate any jobs that your Loved One did to someone else e.g. your son may now carve the turkey
- decorate your Loved One’s memorial site with holiday decorations
- buy yourself a gift and have it gift-wrapped
- cook one of your Loved One’s favourite dishes and savour the smells and tastes
- play music that resonates with your Loved One’s memory
- share a funny story about your Loved One and ask others to do the same
- begin a new tradition
- create a memory book or shadow box with your Loved Ones’ photos, writings, emails, small possessions, etc.
- give yourself something to look forward to once everyone leaves: a bubble bath, a good movie, the dessert you saved for later.
- pace yourself so that you don’t end up emotionally exhausted
Remember, you have the choice to only do what you feel you can do during this, often challenging time. You can always cancel hosting or attending an event if you absolutely need to - there will be more Christmas holidays – but do try not to go through the holidays alone.
‘Arrange whatever pieces come your way’ – Virginia Woolf