Tips for Coping with Loss Around the Holidays
Coping with loss during the holidays is a harrowing experience. In fact, one of the hardest things we will ever have to experience in life is losing the ones we love most. Though friends and family surround us during the holiday season, the absence of our missing loved one can resonate even more profoundly.
Their favorite chair is empty or occupied by someone else.
The sound of their voice and laugh is rendered silent, never to be heard again.
This loss in conjunction with displays of joy around the holidays feels lonely and almost cruel. Our grief has the power to carve an ugly, aching void within us that very little seems to fill. Even the happiness surrounds the most wonderful time of the year rings hollow in our ears.
But there is a way that we can bring the loved ones we’ve lost home for the holidays so that it does not feel as if we’ve forgotten them.
Coping with Loss by Displaying their Image
Displaying a photograph of your loved one on an entryway table or the mantle is a wonderful way to preserve their memory. You can create a space for your loved one this way at any holiday gathering. Others might be coping poorly with their absence as well. Not only will you create an outlet for your own grief, but you’ll do the same for others, too. This is a good way to honor your loved one’s memory and include them in the festivities.
Leaving a Table Setting Open for Them
When you leave an empty table setting, you’re creating even more space for your loved one. It’s a reminder to everyone that though they are gone, they are not forgotten. They may not be able to partake of the meal, but they’ll certainly appreciate the memorial.
Having a Toast
When the death of a loved one is fresh (and even if it isn’t), toasting them at dinner and inviting others to share personal anecdotes allows other mourners to strengthen each other. Coping with loss is hard enough as it is, and you need not do it alone.
Lighting a Candle
When we feel lost in the darkness of our despair, it always helps to light a candle- even if the darkness in question is figurative. You can light one in your home next to a photograph of your lost loved one, or if you prefer, you can go to a house of worship to light a candle for them. When you turn on a light, the darkness doesn’t feel so inescapable.
Coping with Loss by Revisiting their Favorite Holiday Traditions
Keep your loved one close when you watch their favorite films, eat their favorite holiday dishes, and revisit any of the other traditions they observed during the holidays. Coping with loss doesn’t have to be a grim affair. We’re absolutely positive that they’d enjoy seeing you have a great time doing the things they loved in life.
Visiting their Resting Place
Some people might not be ready to take this tip because it might feel too final. Just know that it doesn’t have to. In Japan, it is a cultural norm to visit the graves of family members to introduce them to a new member of the family, as well as on important anniversaries and holidays. Sometimes, they even share meals at their family gravesite. You can find out more about Japanese cemetery traditions here.
We hope that some of these tips help you cope with loss this holiday season.