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Holiday Hints From the Children's Bereavement Center: Ideas on coping with the holidays, whether loss is recent or in years past

Anticipation of a new experience, ritual, or event is often more overwhelming than the event itself. Holidays are especially difficult and often filled with ambivalence even during the best of times. For those of us who have suffered the death of a loved one, the holiday season seems especially complicated and can be filled with mixed emotions.

There is no right or wrong way to deal with the holidays, we must each decide what feels best and is most comforting. First and foremost, try to be kind to yourself. Follow your instincts and desires. Although some people find comfort in speaking with a supportive friend or confidante, this may not be what you find helpful. If you do choose to share your experience with others, try to include your loved one’s name in conversation and recollect past holidays and joys. Cherish and embrace the treasure of your memories.

Many bereaved families have found unique and meaningful ways of remembering their loved one during this season. Here are some ideas and ways which have helped others and may provide additional support.

- Plan ahead. Create new traditions or keep the old.
- Involve children in creating new rituals and traditions.
- Serve your loved one’s favorite food.
- Journal your thoughts and feelings.
- Maintain a memorial light or candle.
- Dedicate a bench, tree, or star in their name.
- Publish a memorial note or poem in the newspaper or a newsletter.
- Make a special time to look at photos or videos.
- Donate in your loved one’s name.
- Allow some quiet time, take a walk, indulge in positive memories.
- Give yourself permission to feel, at times/places that are convenient for you.
- Forgive yourself if you are unable to function at your top level. Ask for help if needed.
- Do only what you can - it’s OK to change how you celebrate.

Remember, that by being understanding, patient and gentle with yourself you will continue to heal and maintain the continuing bond and love for the person you have lost. There is no magic to handling the holidays. Try to remember: be kind to yourself.

Our best and warmest wishes to all this holiday season, and throughout the coming year.

For comments regarding this article contact:

Peter Willig, L.M.F.T., F.T.
Director of Operations and Marketing
Children's Bereavement Center
7600 S. Red Road, Suite 307
South Miami, FL 33143
pswillig@childbereavement.org
305-668-4902