‘Tis the season to be merry but for grievers the holidays are fraught with emotions and decision making may be complicated. There are memories of holidays past and concerns about how to spend the holidays this year. Here are some suggestions for grievers, keeping in mind that different choices can be made again next year:
o Maintain traditions that feel comforting and let go of those that no longer feel right
For example: if the thought of preparing your typical holiday meal is too overwhelming, take the year off and order in or go to a favorite restaurant instead
o Create new traditions or meaningful rituals
For example: design or purchase a new holiday decoration that you will hang in memory of your loved one
o Make a toast in memory of your loved one
Chances are everyone at the table will be aware that the person who died is not there…so why not share sentiments together
o Remember that it is okay to laugh, cry, sing or dance whenever you feel like it
o Prepare special foods or bring their favorite dish to a holiday party
o Allow yourself time alone as well as planning time to be with others
o Do some volunteer work that would be meaningful to your loved one
Families with Children are reminded that the children are grieving too! Far too often children are excluded when decisions are made about which holiday rituals and traditions from the past to uphold and when creating new ones. Offer opportunities which will help them maintain their precious memories and engage in joyful, child centered activities that allow them to enjoy still their childhood.
o Decorate plain paper with holiday themed stamps or stencils and wrap a toy to donate to an emergency shelter or hospital
o Bake holiday cookies to serve to guests or deliver to a retirement community
o Design and laminate a decoration featuring a photo of your loved one
If you are supporting someone who is grieving, here are some suggestions:
o Understand that people react in different ways. They may want the closeness of friends at times and need space at other times. Invite the person to social events and allow them to change their mind at the last minute.
o Start the conversation. Use the name of the person who has died and share your memories with them.
o Make a donation in memory of the person who died.
o Offer to sit with or just “be” with the person who is grieving while they write letters, wrap presents, or address holiday cards.
o Know that it helps just to offer a listening ear. You aren’t expected to say any magic worKs that will make them feel “all better.”
may this holiday season bring you comfort, strength, peace, and hope.
About OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center
OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center is one of the nation’s most respected organizations for grief support and education. For over 24 years, OUR HOUSE has helped thousands of grieving children, teens, and adults as they embark on their journeys to hope and healing after the death of someone close. Support groups specific to age and relationship take place in the safe, warm, and nurturing environment of their centers. OUR HOUSE is a leading provider of grief education, offering workshops, seminars, and in-service training to mental health and medical professionals, clergy, educators, and other members of the community who interact with bereaved families. The OUR HOUSE grief education program is part of the curricula for students at USC’s Keck and UCLA’s David Geffen Schools of Medicine. To learn more, please visit www.ourhouse-grief.org or call 1.888.417.1444.