The loss of a loved one hits everyone differently, and sometimes unexpectedly. It’s difficult to write posts like this because the way you grieve could be completely different from someone else even your siblings. The year after my mom passed away every holiday without her was difficult. It was especially hard my gram. She was so sad that she had outlived my mom and felt in her heart that this was not natural. Gram had lost her brother at a young age and watched her mom suffer from the loss of a child.
My family always celebrated holidays with get-togethers filled with food, decorations, laughter, and traditions. With my mom gone it felt like someone had ripped a giant hole through everything. I was torn, between hanging on to tradition and celebrating new beginnings. My gram started saying, “These new babies in our family represent new beginnings, this is the cycle of life.” I did not want to hear that or even think about the day she would be gone. I had just lost my mom, and now gram was talking about the end of life! We all knew the day would come she was 98 years old, but losing her would be devastating. How do you put on a happy face when your heart is broken?
Some of you may be questioning how you’re going to make it through Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. Or even just the days leading up to it, which sometimes are much worse than the actual day. And I can tell you, you’ll never “get over” the loss of someone, and frankly, I don’t think you should. But I promise you; you will get over that constant feeling of emptiness. But for now, here are a few tips that helped me when just getting through the holidays.
1. Decide how you want to celebrate.
Be realistic with yourself. If you don’t feel like putting together an entire event- don’t. Maybe just taking the day off to do things you enjoyed or even things you enjoyed doing with your loved one. But if you think it would help, celebrate! Don’t run yourself ragged, but sometimes having tasks to do can help. Decide if you’d prefer to stick to old traditions, or would it feel better creating new ones?
For many families, holidays and celebrations are hosted at the parent’s house. If one of your parents have passed, it can be especially difficult for the other parent to know what to do. If you’re feeling up to it, it may be time to have the dinner at your own home- or do the planning. Taking the pressure on your other parent who may feel the need to pretend like everything’s okay is a real gift.
2. Ask for help if you need it
While grieving, we can end up trying to divert our grief by doing too much. But if you feel like you can’t get to everything, ask for help. If you’re planning on putting dinner together, ask your siblings if they could bring something or try all working together to make the meal.
3. Honor your loved one
Regardless of whether you’re holding an official celebration or not, it’s helpful to do something to honor your loved one. Doing charity work or hosting a charity event in your loved ones honor can be amazing for your mental state, and helpful for your community. Doing something with your hands and mind while helping others helped me through the grieving process. If you’re not feeling up to doing much, consider surrounding yourself with some of their things. Even if it’s as simple as sharing memories or going through old photographs, take some time to remember them at their best.
4. Take time for yourself
Whether this is just for a few hours or the whole day, take some time for yourself. Putting celebrations together can take a lot of your extra time that you would normally spend sleeping, exercising or just making proper meals. Even if you’re not celebrating, the days leading up to a holiday can be mentally exhausting, so take some time to practice some self-care.
5. Be around those you love
No matter what you decide to do, I would recommend being with those you love. Even if you don’t feel like talking, take this time to create some new traditions. I love spending time with my nieces and sharing stories about my mom and gram. I want them to have fond memories of their childhood and treasure those memories. Having them close gives me the support to get through these times. You can always celebrate the past while stepping into your future.