For many people the holidays are a time of joy and celebration with family and friends, and a time of traditions old and new. For others, this time of year may bring back the raw feelings of sadness and loneliness as they remember loved ones that are no longer with them and days of the past.
As the holidays approach, we are surrounded by the aromas of the season, the decorations of high spirits and the sounds of joy. As a result, the pain of loss may be heightened this time of year. Below are some suggestions on how to cope with the holidays this season:
• Acknowledge the holidays will be different this year.
• Decide whether to keep old traditions or begin new ones.
• Develop plan A and plan B. Realize you have choices. Allow yourself the flexibility to do what is needed at the time. Do what is most comfortable for you.
• Communicate your plans to your family and friends.
• Give yourself permission to have pleasure.
• Avoid additional stress.
• Listen to your body’s needs. If you need rest, rest.
• Ask for help if needed. Know where to go and who to contact.
• Take time to remember. Honor the loss.
• Do something special for someone else.
• If you decide to do holiday shopping, make a list ahead of time. Keep it handy for a good day. If needed, shop through a catalog.
There are many things that could bring comfort during the holidays. For some, it may be lighting a candle in remembrance. Light can represent hope in the midst of darkness, healing in the midst of sadness. For others it may be sharing stories about their loved one, using their name or looking at pictures. And yet others may choose to wear their loved one’s sweater or baseball cap, or bake their favorite recipe.
Comfort may also be found in silence. Grief is an individual journey. Find what brings you comfort during this holiday season and know that you are loved.
Holly Torbic is Outreach and Development Coordinator for Tides, a support program for grieving children and the people who love them. This weekly column is a collaboration of Centre County Communities That Care serving Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley and Philipsburg-Osceola area school districts, and Care Partnership: Centre Region Communities That Care serving the State College Area School District.