I lost my dad almost 3 years ago to liver cancer and it’s still hard everyday. I’ve had to learn a few tricks over the years to not spend Christmas in the bathroom crying.
My dad loved Christmas, we both liked looking at the Christmas tree lights. It was calming in a way. I never imaged he’d be taken away so soon and so fast. Within 3 months of the discovery of his cancer he passed away. It’s so hard to talk about.
I’ve got a few things I do to help me cope with the loss of him and other loved ones during the holidays though. It doesn’t make the pain go away but it does help to remember a time when they were here.
What is grief?
“Grief is the response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, cultural, spiritual and philosophical”.
Why is it important to deal with the loss of a loved one?
There is no wrong or right way to deal with grief, some grieve differently than others. Grief is a natural emotion so it’s important to let yourself feel it, often times the pain of a loss can be overwhelming. Remember the grieving process will take some time.
How to cope with loss over the holiday season:
- Acknowledge the holidays will be different without the person around.
- Create a new tradition in memory of your loved one.
- Decide if you’re going to have the holiday in the same place. The place you’ve been celebrating may be too much for you to handle while still coping with the loss.
- Keep in mind not everyone grieves in the same way, so just because someone isn’t in the same boat as you doesn’t mean they’re not hurting too.
- Include a favorite dish your loved one liked, this will keep the memory light.
- Buy a gift you would’ve bought a loved one and donate it to a charity of your choice or of one in which your loved one passed away. I do this with the liver cancer foundation.
- Be honest with family and tell then exactly what you do and don’t want to do for the holiday, if it’s just too much I’m sure they will not fault you for your absents.
- Send a holiday card to the loved one who passed away if not one of your parents. I do this with my best friend who lost her dad too.
- Pull out some old photos with family and friends and listen to the stories that pour out of their memories.
- Find a grief group if you need a little extra help and you feel you can’t talk to family or friends. There is no shame in seeking outside help.
I hope these tips will help you get through the holidays while grieving the loss of a loved one. Remember to just take it one day at a time no matter how long it has been.
How do you spend time with your family during the holidays?