Skip or minimize gifts. After a death, material things can seem less meaningful and the mall can seem especially stressful. Talk as a family and decide whether you truly want to exchange gifts this year.
Put out a photo table with photos of your loved one at holiday celebrations in the past.
Go to a grief group. When everyone looks so gosh-darn filled with holiday cheer, sometimes it is helpful to talk with others who are struggling.
Skip (or minimize) the decorations if they are too much this year. Don’t worry, you’ll see plenty of decorations outside your house.
Don’t feel guilty if you skip or minimize the decorations!
Let your perfectionism go. If you always have the perfect tree, perfectly wrapped gifts, and perfect table, accept that this year may not be perfect and that is a-okay. I know this is easier said than done for you type-As, but give it a try.
Ignore people who want to tell you what you “should” do for the holiday. Listen to yourself, trust yourself, communicate with your family, and do what works for you.
Seek gratitude. I am the queen of holiday funks, so I know this is tough. But try to find one daily gratitude throughout the holiday season. Write it down, photograph it, share it on facebook. Whatever. Just look for the little things. Here are some tips if you’re struggling with it.
Watch the food. Food can make us feel better in the short term (**bleep** you, dopamine!) until we feel like crap later that we ate that whole tin of holiday cookies. Don’t deprive yourself, but be careful that you don’t let food become your holiday comfort.
If you are stressed about making the holiday dinner, ask someone else to cook or buy dinner this year.
If you are stressed about the crowds at the mall, cut back on gifts or do your shopping online.
Splurge on a gift for you. Grief can make us feel a little entitled and self-involved, and that is okay sometimes (within reason, of course). Splurge on a holiday gift for yourself this year, And make it a good one!
Say yes to help. There will be people who want to help and may offer their support. Take them up on their offers.
Ask for help. If people aren’t offering, ask. This can be super-hard if it isn’t your style, but it is important. Asking others to help with cooking, shopping, or decorating can be a big relief.
Have a moment of silence during your holiday prayer or toast in memory of your loved one.
Donate a holiday meal to a family in need through a local church, salvation army, or department of social services.
Donate altar flowers or other holiday decorations at your place of worship in memory of your loved one.
Prioritize and don’t overcommit. When the holidays are filled with so many parties, dinners, and events, save your energy for those that are most important. Look at everything you have to do and rank them in order of importance. Plan for the most important and skip the rest.
Make a list and check it twice. Grief makes it harder for us to concentrate and remember things. When you have a lot going on at the holidays, make a list even if you aren’t usually a list-maker, and write things on the calendar.
Skip it. Really. If you just can’t face the holiday it is okay to take a break this year. Before you get to this extreme, consider if you could just simplify your holiday. If you do skip, still make a plan. Decide if you will still see friends or family, go see a new movie, or make another plan.
Enjoy yourself! The holidays will be tough, but there will also be love and joy.
Remember, it is okay to be happy – this doesn’t diminish how much you love and miss the person who isn’t there this holiday. Don’t feel guilty for the joy you do find this holiday season.
I thought it was a wonderful list. My problem is that I have no friends or neighbors. My son moved out (thank goodness) and didn't care to drive the 30 miles. My daughter got here Friday and I have seen her less than 3 hours total. I am very happy when she goes out with friends but when she sleeps until 6pm I am afraid she is either stressed or avoiding me. I had planned to be moved before Christmas so all of the decorations were already packed up. No tree, no decorations, I had presents sent to their addresses early to ensure they would be there to get them. I cried some of the day and then decided that life is what you make it so I put the dogs on the bed and we did some cable binge watching. I at least was able to do a lot of donations to national and local charities. That makes me feel that I still have some worth.
@Nora1955 It sounds like you managed to pull out of the emotional downward spin, which is great. Kudos to you for that! 🙂
I don't know what a family holiday event is like, so I'm happy with a candlelight dinner for two.
We do make it a special time of year, though. This year I wrote a note inviting my hubby to select any number of 7 events. They were things like "go birding at XYZ preserve or ABC lake" and "try to beat me in backgammon, progressive rummy and dominos". I included an iTunes gift card, so he could get some new music and presented this in a small gift box. And that's it. That's all I got him: fun things we could share. 🙂 You could try a similar thing with your children. It might be a relaxing and fun way to spend time together.
"The key to success is to keep growing in all areas of life - mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical." Julius Erving