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Acknowledging Grief and Celebrating the Holidays After a Loss

Woman sitting with children in front of Christmas tree_Acknowledging Grief During the Holidays

Even in the best of times, the holiday season can be stressful and exhausting. There are parties to attend, gifts to buy, trips to plan, and cookies to make. As a result, many people experience at least some level of stress during the holidays. However, if you’re experiencing a recent loss, these feelings of stress can be exemplified, and others can emerge as well. 

Celebrating the holidays after the loss of a loved one can be extremely sad, especially when it’s the first Christmas, birthday, anniversary, etc. These are supposed to be times of joy and togetherness, but all you can think about is their absence, and how this year will be different. And yes, it will be different, but different doesn’t have to mean bad. There are still meaningful ways to celebrate the holidays while honoring your loved one. Franklin Park® Senior Living is sharing a few. 

Listen to Your Feelings

Losing someone you love is hard, and it brings up many difficult emotions. The holidays tend to amplify these emotions, magnifying your feelings of loss, sadness, and loneliness. One of the most important things you can do during this time is to be kind and gentle to yourself. Allow yourself time to grieve, to process whatever emotion you might be feeling. You know yourself best, so cater to your own needs and feelings. 

If you don’t want to go to that holiday party, don’t. On the other hand, if you want to go and have fun and laugh, that’s okay too. Any emotion you’re feeling is valid and should be recognized and acknowledged. However, if you can, you should try to avoid hunkering down in your house by yourself. After all, your family members are most likely dealing with grief too, and it can help to spend time together and comfort each other. 

Make Their Favorite Meal

One of the best parts about celebrating the holidays is all the delicious food. And the food is often more than just food; it’s a special way of connecting with and spending time with those you love. After the loss of a loved one, though, the dinner table might seem empty or quiet. An easy way to honor your loved one is to make sure their favorite meal is a part of the holiday feast, even if it’s not considered a “holiday” food. If their favorite food was tacos, add some to the menu; if they loved root beer floats, serve those for desserts! A meaningful part of the holidays is to learn how to make new traditions that you can look forward to each year. 

Donate or Volunteer in Their Honor  

Some research suggests that “doing good” can decrease stress and lift your spirits—the ultimate win-win situation. To honor your loved one, considering donating time or money in their name. You can even choose a cause they were passionate about, whether it’s children, veterans, or the environment. 

If you’re interested in supporting a local San Antonio organization, we encourage you to visit this website

Share Stories About Them

Losing someone special is heartbreaking, but there can be some sweetness in the sadness. Taking some time to share fun and meaningful stories about your loved one can be a great way to keep their memory alive and honor them. 

Your grandmother is someone’s mother, or maybe someone’s aunt or godmother, and each of you had unique memories and experiences with her. Sharing and listening to stories can make you smile, cry, and see your loved one through someone else’s eyes.

It can also be a great way to share things about your loved one with those who never got the chance to meet them. 

Continue Traditions 

Traditions and rituals are a large part of the holiday season, but the first holiday, especially the first Christmas, after the loss of a loved one can leave you feeling less than festive or joyful. Your yearly traditions and routines may only amplify your grief, reminding you that this year, putting up a tree, mailing out cards, and watching festive movies will look a little different. You might even feel the need to abandon these traditions, feeling guilty for enjoying the season. 

You can still uphold and even enjoy these traditions, though. Yes, they may look a little different, but if your favorite part of the season was decorating cookies or going caroling, there’s no reason you can’t still do them. You can even find small ways to honor your loved one through these traditions, like making their favorite recipe or singing their favorite song. 

Maintain a Healthy Routine

While the holidays are certainly a time for delicious food and packed social calendars, it’s essential to take care of yourself, too, especially after losing a loved one. You don’t have to avoid your favorite holiday food, but overindulging on sugar and heavy comfort food can give you headaches, fatigue, and stomachaches. On top of that, going to too many social events can leave you feeling drained with little time to rest or exercise. 

It’s important to take care of yourself during this time, finding a healthy balance of enjoying holiday treats and events and sticking to a routine of eating well and getting enough physical activity. Maintaining a semblance of routine and wellness can help you avoid exacerbating your feelings of sadness and grief. 

Find Comfort During the Holidays 

There’s no denying that the first Christmas, or any holiday, after the loss of a loved one is full of difficult emotions. It’s important to remember, though, that with time, family and friends, and special ways to remember and honor your loved one, the holidays can still be a time of joy and celebration. 

Franklin Park® Senior Living knows that the holiday season is not always joyous and festive for everyone. Our San Antonio senior living communities make the holidays a safe and welcoming time for our residents and their families. To discover more about life at Franklin Park, we invite you to visit our website.