Talking about Grief

The First Holiday Season Without Your Person — Making a Plan, Checking it Twice

9079f0042fbce8689149_grief_at_holidays.jpg
9079f0042fbce8689149_grief_at_holidays.jpg

If you are facing your first holiday after an important person in your life has died, it’s not too early to come up with a plan. Watching others who are feeling thankful and are celebrating when we feel overwhelmed, lonely or sad can be very painful. Holidays force us to realize how much our lives have been changed by the loss of our loved one.   

The first step in coping with grief at the holidays is to acknowledge that the first holiday season is difficult and then to prepare for it in advance by making specific plans and obtaining the support that you need. Remember too, that sometimes anticipation of a holiday can be more difficult than the day itself.

Here are some ideas for developing a personal plan and ways to cope during the holidays.  And remember, you can always change your plan if it’s not working for you.  Some people choose to completely avoid the holidays all together by getting out of town or staying in pajamas for the day, but if you have young children or teens or any budget limitations that’s usually not an option.    

Sign Up for E-News

  • Traditions.  If life with your person included a lot of holiday traditions, it’s a good idea to talk with your children and other family members and friends about setting realistic expectations.  Some people like to stick with current traditions or form new traditions.  There is no right or wrong but simply what will work best for you and your family.  Keep in mind what you think you will be capable of doing, not capable of doing or interested in doing.   Here are some ideas:
     
    • Announce beforehand that someone different will carve the turkey.
    • Create a memory box. You could fill it with photos of your person or written memory notes from family members and friends. Young children could include their drawings in the memory box.
    • Light a candle in honor of the person
    • Set a seat at the table for the missing person if you feel that would be helpful and use it to encourage people to remember and share stories of the person who died
    • If you have children let them decorate a special plate for the person – it can be a paper plate or a ceramic plate bought at an arts and crafts store designed for decorating.
    • Have a moment of silence during a holiday toast
    • Place a commemorative ornament on the Christmas tree.
    • Dedicate one of the Chanukah candles in memory of your person.
    • Write a poem about your person and read it during a holiday ritual.
    • Play your person’s favorite music or favorite game.
    • Plan a meal with their favorite foods.
  • If family members object to dropping a treasured tradition, ask them to take care of it this year. If your holiday celebrations usually include hours of standing in the kitchen to create a time-consuming traditional dish, for example, this may be the year to ask someone else to do it.
     
  • Let people know what you need.  I needed to talk about my mom the first Thanksgiving without her but noone knew that and purposefully avoided bringing her up as a way to protect me.  I realized afterwards that I needed to tell them I want to hear about my mom! 
     
  • Grief is exhausting.  Be honest with others and with yourself about what you’re physically capable of doing this year.  Just getting out of bed in the morning can be a challenge, not to mention cooking an entire meal or shopping for gifts.  
     
  • Think about what the holidays mean to you, and focus on those activities. Give yourself permission to simplify your to-do list as your energy level and attention span are compromised when grieving.  Think about what could bring you comfort and even joy. If it doesn’t seem like Christmas to you without decorating a tree, for instance, think about ways to keep it from becoming an exhausting chore.  Ask for help. 
     
  • If others can’t or won’t help, try simplifying the task. Buy a Christmas tree instead of making a trip to cut one down and haul it home, for instance; instead of spending the day cooking, ask others to bring dishes to share, or make dinner reservations. Keep in mind that skipping a tradition this year doesn’t mean you’ll never do it again.
     
  • Don’t feel pressured into forcing a good mood around folks who think you should “be over it by now” or fear your grief will dampen their celebrations.  It’s OK to grieve. If people won’t let you grieve, be around people who will. 
     
  • It’s okay to enjoy the holidays too.  It’s important to give ourselves permission to laugh, share stories, feel lighter and feel joy and not feel guilty. Experiencing joy and laughter does not mean you have forgotten your loved one. Allow yourself to feel joy, sadness, anger – allow yourself to grieve. It is important to recognize that every family member has his/her own unique grief experience and may have different needs related to celebrating the holidays. No one way is right or wrong.
     
  • Think of a way to remember the person who died in whatever holiday observances you keep. It could be making a donation to a cause that meant a lot to your loved one, watching his or her favorite movie or just sharing funny stories.  
     
  • Find ways to build peace and quiet into your schedule. Reading, listening to music, meditating, writing in a journal and hiking or going for a walk can help you find balance amidst the grief and provide respite and self-care. Be sure to build in time to take care of and nurture yourself. 
     
  • Draw comfort from doing for others.  Invite a guest who might otherwise be alone for the holidays. Adopt a needy family during the holiday season. Volunteer at a food bank or soup kitchen.  (Only do any of this if~ you have the energy.  Don't make it another "to do" or obligation.
     
  • Take care of your health.  Drink enough water, cut back on alcohol, get enough rest and go for walks or do something physical.
     
  • Build a support team to help you get through it.  Who are the friends or family you can count on to support you during this time?  Think about joining a grief support group, find a therapist to talk to, have a list of friends you can call who are good listeners.    

Here is another really good article with information on caring for yourself during all of the various holidays throughout the year.  I especially like how they talk about having a Plan A and a Plan B. 

If you want even more tips for coping at holiday time check out this article from our friends at What's Your Grief. 

Finally, be gentle and kind to yourself.  Wishing you peace and comfort now and always.  Imagine. 

At Imagine we refrain from referring to people who have died as “loved ones” knowing that not all people who die in our lives are necessarily loved, or at the least that some may have very mixed feelings towards the person.  We also know even if you feel a sense of relief, that these feelings are complicated and can still make the holidays difficult.  Regardless of your relationship to the deceased or your degree of love or affection, it helps to have a plan.

Imagine is a free year-round children’s grief support center that serves NJ children age 3-18 and young adults 18-30 who are grieving the death of a parent or sibling, or who are living with a parent of sibling with a life-altering illness. Imagine also provides grief education and training for thousands of teachers, parents, coaches, youth and other adults annually.  

 

 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

Clark Officials Say Latest Scam is Fueled by OPRA Regulations

May 26, 2018

CLARK, NJ — Township officials have released a statement encouraging residents to exercise caution if they are approached by an individual or organization promising to help with property tax related issues for a fee.   

The Town of Clark is urging citizens to contact the Tax Collector's office with questions before agreeing to use the services provided ...

Open Letter to Dr. Dolan & Westfield High School Administration About Graduation

May 23, 2018

Editor's note: The following is a response to a letter sent to parents from Westfield High School Principal Derrick Nelson telling parents that, due to the potential of Kehler Field being re-turfed, this year’s graduation will be held on the back field behind Westfield High School, with the inclement weather location the varsity gymnasium. The letter tells parents ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, May 26, 9:00 AM

Miller-Cory House Museum, Westfield

Aunt Carrie's Attic Sale

Other

Carousel_image_d58a47f28bf47b0c40d6_spb-4937_newsletter_june_24

Sat, May 26, 12:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...

Sports

Carousel_image_8cd695f8ea6f03939eb0_mini_magick20180405-26868-1g02rrv

Mon, May 28, 9:00 AM

Westfield

Memorial Day Parade

Westfield Police Blotter: Package Stolen from Porch, Shoplifting & More

May 23, 2018

May 15, 2018 11:40 a.m.

A resident of Vernon Terrace reported the theft of a package from their front porch on May 12, 2018 between 11:40 a.m. and 5 p.m.

 

May 19, 2018 1:16 p.m.

Rhonda Boston, age 32, of Newark, NJ was arrested on the strength of an outstanding warrant for her arrest from Westfield Municipal Court in the amount of $580. Subject was picked up at New Jersey State ...

Obituaries

Eric Lieberman, 47, of Scotch Plains, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Tuesday, May 22, 2018 ...
Read more

Union County Honors the Westfield High School Blue Devils Football Team

May 26, 2018

Union County Freeholder Chairman Sergio Granados and Freeholder Alexander Mirabella present a resolution to the players and coaches of the Westfield High School Blue Devils Football Team congratulating them on winning their third straight North Jersey, Section 2, Group 5 Championship with a 20-7 victory over Bridgewater-Raritan. They were joined by Assemblywoman Linda Carter.

Westfield's Wilson School Receives Surprise Visit from Governor Murphy

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy took a few moments out of a busy schedule to drop in on a 5th grade class at Wilson School in Westfield on Thursday, May 24.

“Fifth grade is one of the coolest grades,” said the governor as he greeted the students.  “What are you studying today?”

A brief discussion of the formulas for surface area and volume needed to build an ...

There are Really 3 Reason Buyers Choose the Homes They Buy

Susan Massa Broker Associate CRS SRES ABR 

Keller Williams Premier Properties 188 Elm St Westfield NJ 07090

488 Springfield Ave, Summit, NJ 07901

908-400-0778 cell

www.summitwestfieldhomes.com     www.NJHomeshowcase.com

susan@susanmassa.com

Dedicated to Excellence, Dedicated to You “Your Home Your Realtor”

download my smart phone app ...

Ask Maria: How can I help my son? 

Q: My son's best friend's mom just passed away. I am concerned for my son and don't know what to do for him. He is distraught. How can I help my son? 

Response:

Grief is a normal and natural reaction to the death of a loved one. No two people grieve the same, even in the family. I am certain that your son’s friend and mom are like family to your son. Losing his ...

Dog Missing from Fanwood Home

UPDATE: Reunited with owner!

ORIGINAL POST: Lexi was seen north side of Fanwood Thursday. She's 25 lbs., tall and looks like a fox.

Lexi is friendly and was wearing a collar with a tag. Call 732-259-5570 if you spot her.

IRS Grants Relief for Taxpayers Affected by Reduction of Maximum Deductible HSA Contributions

The IRS recently announced relief for taxpayers with family coverage under a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) who contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA).

 

For 2018, taxpayers with family coverage under an HDHP may treat $6,900 as the maximum deductible HSA contribution.

 

The annual amount had been reduced to $6,850 for 2018 under the Tax Cuts and Jobs ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.

 

Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

‘Chambers USA 2018’ Recognizes John Schmidt Among List of America’s Leading Lawyers for Business

Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper is pleased to announce that John H. Schmidt has once again been recognized by “Chambers USA” in their annual list of leading lawyers for business. Chambers and Partners, which produces “Chambers USA,” is a client referral organization that researches and subjectively ranks attorneys and law firm practice groups nationwide ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

SURVIVING A STROKE: Quick Medical Response Gives Mom Her Life Back

Carotid artery dissection. It’s one of the most common causes of stroke in younger adults.

And while you might not associate the word “stroke” with younger patients, the condition – if not treated immediately – could lead to paralysis and even death.

Lindsey Singh can attest to the importance of immediacy. The 31-year-old mother of two from Flanders experienced ...

Capitalist or Communist?

Karl Marx may have been the pioneer, but many other Jews were also involved in the struggle for communism, particularly in the early days of the Russian revolution. Personally, I don’t think that we have any apologies to make for this phenomenon. Having suffered unbearably under successive oppressive regimes, many of those political activists genuinely thought communism would be better ...

Stocks Can Rise in a Rising Interest Rate Environment

Investors remain concerned about the potential impact of higher interest rates on stocks. In their most recently released minutes, the Federal Reserve Open Markets Committee indicated the US economy is on solid footing and the economic conditions warrant continued gradual increasing of interest rates. This set off a sale in the stock and bond markets as investors began pricing in a fourth ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 15

On this week’s AtlantiCast, learn some important tips for controlling and avoiding diabetes from an Atlantic Health System expert, see how Atlantic Health is advancing cutting-edge research, hear what’s being done to keep health care environmentally friendly and much more!

 

Vehicular Homicide Charges for Driver of Paramus School Bus

May 24, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ — The driver of a school bus involved in a crash on Route 80 last week that killed two people faces two counts of second-degree vehicular homicide/death by auto, it was announced today.

The driver, Hudy Muldrow, 77, of Woodland Park, attempted to make an illegal U-Turn on the highway in an attempt to find his way to Waterloo Village, the planned destination of the bus that ...