Traditionally, the holidays are a time of joy, laughter, sparkle, glitter and celebrations shared with family and friends. But for individuals who are grieving the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be difficult, bringing about feelings of anxiety, sadness and emptiness. As the holidays approach, it may be helpful to think about how to take care of yourself during this difficult time, or to be aware of the effect the holidays may have on your grieving family or friends.
Over the years, Hospice of the Red River Valley has offered various articles and tips for coping with grief during the holiday season. The below articles offer helpful reminders:
No One Makes Pie Crust Like My Mother–Coping With Grief During the Holidays
By Mary Lou Dahms
Life has been different this year. And the upcoming holidays will be very different. That’s what happens when you lose someone you love. My mother died on December 31, 2010, and because she lived less than five minutes from us and I talked to her every day and saw her at least once a week, adjusting to a new normal has not been easy. Read more.
Grief During the Holiday Season: How Do You Cope?
By Connie DeKrey
Ordinarily, we think of the holidays as a busy, joyous time. But when one is grieving the death of someone beloved, there is nothing “ordinary” about it. Holidays are typically filled with memories and reflection, so it is not surprising that the longing we may feel for that absent loved one intensifies against the backdrop of festive bustle. There may be reminders that cause an ache in one’s spirit, such as a card addressed to the deceased, a gift that would have suited him perfectly or her favorite Christmas song playing on the radio. Read more.
Grief During the Holiday Season: Embracing Memories
By Connie DeKrey
“Christmas 2004: This was an even-numbered year, which meant it was our turn to celebrate the holiday with my husband’s side of the family in Bismarck; odd-numbered years had traditionally been spent with my side of the family. But current circumstances dictated differently. My Mom was temporarily staying in Fargo to receive radiation treatments recommended by her oncologist, but not available in her hometown. She would not be up to a road trip, and I couldn’t bear the thought of her spending the holiday alone in an unfamiliar community.” Read more.
Celebrating the Holidays when a Loved One has Alzheimer’s
By Gretchen Dobervich, ND/MN Alzheimer’s Association
The Holiday Season is a time when families join together to make memories and reminisce. When a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, a little extra planning can help make holiday celebrations enjoyable for everyone. Read more.
Keep in mind, a child who is grieving the death of a loved one will also experience different feelings during the holidays. They may look forward to the holidays but not know what to expect or they may want to avoid the holidays all together. It is important to involve them while preparing and planning for the holidays to allow them an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings. Being open and honest with each other can help make the holidays less stressful for everyone.
It is important to remember that the anticipation of any holiday can be much worse than the actual event. Allow feelings of joy and try not to feel guilty if you find yourself enjoying the holidays. Having a good time does not mean you have forgotten your loved one. You cannot change the past, but you can take care of the present to help you heal in the future.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with grief, Hospice of the Red River Valley offers a variety of grief support options, which are open to the community. Please visit our website for more information regarding our grief resource library, support groups, classes, and other means of support, or call us: 800-237-4629.
About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving all, or portions of, 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hrrv.org.