If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be a particularly difficult time. While everyone around you is busy .. celebrating the holidays, you can’t wait for them to be over. Here are a few recommendations to help ease the pain:

  • Don’t expect that you’ll have the same amount of energy that you normally do during the holiday season. Most likely, you won’t feel like decorating or shopping, and that is o.k.
  • Plan in advance. Decide where you want to spend the holidays and with whom. Not everyone will understand your pain and you want to ensure that you are comfortable.
  • Allow yourself to feel all of the emotions that you’re experiencing, and allow others to comfort you. The holidays often cause a lot of grief triggers. Allow yourself to express the emotions you feel.
  • Consider creating new holiday traditions. Consider taking a trip and spending the holidays in a new location, one that does not hold all of the memories of holidays past.
  • Light candles in memory of your loved one. Choose candles that have a soothing scent and consider creating a place of honor for the candles in your home.
  • Consider doing something in memory of your loved one this holiday season. If you have children, have them help you. You might make a donation to charity, create a holiday ornament, or create a photo album full of past holiday photos.
  • Consider volunteering your time. Often giving to others is one of the best ways to help ease our own pain.
  • Attend a holiday memorial celebration. The VNAIC has an annual celebration called Light Up a Life. This year’s event will be held November 20th, 2011 in Palm Desert. This memorial celebration provides an opportunity for you to honor the memory of your loved one in a community setting.
  • Consider attending a grief support group. Other grieving people will understand what you’re going through in a way that most friends and family won’t be able to.

Lastly, be gentle with yourself. It’s normal to feel like you don’t want to participate in the holidays. Remember that often the anticipation of the holidays is worse than when the actual holidays arrive.

Pamela Gabbay is Program Director of the Mourning Star Center, a support center for grieving children and families. The Mourning Star Center is a community service program of the VNAIC. For more information, please call 760-836-0360.

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