Grief and the Holidays

Grieving around the holidays can be especially tough. There are so many little (and big) reminders that your person is not here. However you choose to make it through this holiday season, do what works for YOU, no one else. Don’t force yourself to celebrate in a way that you think others expect from you. Celebrate (or don’t) in ways that help you survive and stay as healthy as possible this holiday season.

If you choose to celebrate and are looking for ways to honor your person, here are a few ideas below. (But don’t pressure yourself to plan anything specific to honor them if its too hard. Your person would want you to get through this season however is best for you. They don’t doubt your love for them, so you have nothing to prove.)

  • Tell stories about your person around the holiday table
  • Hang an ornament or light a candle in their honor
  • Serve your person’s favorite food
  • Set up a shrine – a framed photo and candle perhaps, and if it feels right, you can set little gifts for them there
  • Engage family members by each bringing a favorite photo or memory, or perhaps items for a memorabilia table
  • Incorporate gifts your person has given you in the past – wear the sweater they gifted you, use the plates you shared, etc
  • Plan out time to watch their favorite movie or read from a book they enjoyed, play their favorite game
  • Take a walk alone to get away from the hustle bustle and spend some time thinking of them or talking to them

For me, I’m putting up a Christmas Tree this year, because Caleb and I always wanted to have one, and never did, the few Christmases we had together. I gave away the turkey we were supposed to eat to a family who will be feeding themselves and their twelve foster dogs with it. Caleb LOVED dogs and would be so happy to help out in this way. I’ll probably be spending time with his family at some point over this holiday season; continuing to be part of Caleb’s family is a way that I honor him and continue to live out the commitment he and I made to each other. Maybe I’ll try to make Caleb’s famous mashed potatoes with his secret ingredient – or maybe I’ll save that for another year if I’m not feeling up for it.

Finding ways to honor your person can be as unique as they were. There is no right or wrong way, as long as you don’t pressure or guilt yourself to do something that you aren’t ready for or just doesn’t feel right. Give yourself grace and patience this holiday season!

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