Holiday festivities can be exhausting for everyone, but even more stressful for those who grieve. The music and decorations may be painful reminders of Christmas without a loved one. Memories can come flooding back and can completely overwhelm a person or family. At a time when everyone is supposed to be happy and merry, getting together with friends and relatives, the bereaved may experience anger, loneliness, sadness, and depression. No simple guidelines that exist will take away the hurt; however, the following may help one cope with grief during this joyful, yet painful, time of the year.
• Bring your loved one into the Christmas celebration. Light a candle in your home in memory of a loved one.
• Talk about your grief with a family member or caring friend who will listen — without judging. Ignoring grief will not make the pain go away and talking about it openly often makes one feel better.
• Eliminate unnecessary stress. Avoid isolation, but be sure to recognize the need to have special time for oneself.
• Mention the name of the person who has died. Include the person’s name in holiday conversation. It is important to recognize the need to remember that special person.
• Plan ahead for family gatherings. Family traditions that are wished to be continued should be decided upon, along with new ones to begin following the death of someone loved. Structure holiday time. This will help to anticipate activities, rather then just reacting to whatever happens. Getting caught off guard can create feelings of panic, fear, and anxiety during a time of the year when feelings of grief are already heightened. Leave room to change plans if it is felt appropriate.
• Embrace a treasure of moments. Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of a loved one. Instead of ignoring these memories, they should be shared with family and friends. Keep in mind that memories are tinged both with happiness and sadness. Memories could bring laughter and smiles or bring sadness. It’s all right to cry. No one can ever take away memories that were made in love.
• Remember, grief is both necessary and a privilege. It comes as a result of giving and receiving love.
Holiday times provide many opportunities to reinvest energies by thinking of others who are alone, away from loved ones or less fortunate. Try volunteering at a hospital, care facility or food bank, donating a gift or money to a worthwhile cause in memory of a loved one or participating in events that bring comfort and happy memories such as a Christmas concert, pageants or church programs.
The management and staff of the G.F. Oliver Funeral Chapel hope that these words will be a source of comfort. A merry Christmas and a happy new year to one and all.
— G.F. OLIVER FUNERAL HOME