How can you get through the holidays after the loss of a loved one?

The holiday season is a time typically spent with family and friends. While usually seen as a joyous occasion and a time to reconnect, for those who have lost a loved one the holiday can also be a challenging one.

For those who are experiencing the loss of a loved one, the holidays seem to compound the grief and the sense of loss. How can you get through the holiday season without your loved one?

Every person grieves differently. The holiday season can bring this grief to the forefront. But one thing you should remember, especially during this time of the year, is that you’re the only one who can decide how best to handle your grief. Here are some tips that might make things a little bit easier:

1. Socializing may be the last thing on your mind. Sometimes being around those who care about you can help in the grieving process. Other times, being around family and friends without your loved one present can intensify the pain. You may choose to attend some events and not others. You may go to an event, only to leave immediately after your arrival. Whatever decision you make, don’t be too hard on yourself as there is no wrong decision.

2. Remember your loved one with a prayer or dedication. Light a candle in their memory.

3. Decide how you want to spend the holiday – do you want to keep with tradition or create a new one.

4. Shop early or shop online. Not only will this keep you out of the stores, where the holiday spirit is all around you, it will also take away some of the stress and anxiety tied to the holiday.

5. Tell a story or share a special memory. When you try to forget, it tends to only make things worse. Most likely you will not be the only person thinking of your loved one and the stories shared can help in the healing process.

6. Alter the routine – holidays are steeped not only in tradition, but repetition. Families tend to do the same types of things every year. Try something different this year and mix things up a little. It will take some of the pressure off everyone who is trying to re-create an event that will never be the same again.

7. Remember that you are not alone. It might help to talk to others who have been through this before or talk to a grief counselor before the holidays get too far along. They can help you form a plan to get through the holiday, or just provide you with someone to talk to.

8. Do something for someone else. Help at a local food bank or give a donation in your loved one’s name.

9. Ask for help. Find your core “support team” and lean on them throughout the season.

10. Take care of yourself. The holidays are already hectic. Take time away from the holiday and spend it in reflection or in a way that helps you recharge and continue moving forward.

While some, all or none of these tips may help you with the pain you’re feeling, hopefully they will at least give you some ideas on different ways to survive the holiday. There is no timeframe for grief and each person heals at their own pace. It is important to understand that the holidays can bring back memories and find a way to rekindle your sadness. The holidays will never be the same again after the loss of a loved one, but with time you can create your new version of the holiday and find a new way to celebrate the season.