When you have lost someone very dear to you, the most difficult obstacle to cross is getting through the holidays. Surviving the days where everyone around you is celebrating and spreading good cheer, while your mind is filled with memories and your heart is heavy with loneliness. It’s difficult just making it through what used to be the happiest days that were once shared with a soul mate, and today carries only emptiness. The greatest challenge is to remain in the company of others who love you, when you really want to be alone with your sadness.

It makes no difference whether the loss took place last week, several months ago, or even last year. The holidays always send those deep emotions flooding right to the surface.

Just as how you deal with grief is personal and individual, so is the way you handle the holidays. Remember to be true to yourself, and don t take on too much responsibility. Let people know that your plans may be subject to change, and you can’t make long term commitments just yet. Be honest with yourself and with your friends and family about how you re feeling.

Some people find it best to start new traditions, because the past ones hold memories too difficult to deal with. Talk with your family about setting expectations. Plan together any modifications you will all make to the normal holiday festivities. You may want to have a church service dedicated to the memory of your loved one. Or make an annual donation in his/her name. Perhaps join the Hospice Tree Lighting ceremony. Bring joy to another child by purchasing a special toy for the Angel Tree in memory of your child.

It s a great idea, for both you and your family, for you to write a letter to them asking for their understanding. There is a terrific example of this at the following Web Site: Soothing Holiday Sadness. I encourage you to take a look at it.

Be honest about how you re feeling, but when ever possible, try to include a positive twist into your thoughts.

Instead of:
I miss my beloved so much, there is no Christmas without him/her.
I do miss my beloved. Christmas will be different this year, but I will try to enjoy it.

Instead of:
I HATE this time of year. I can t wait until it s over.
This is a difficult time of year for me. But it does give me an opportunity to become closer to my family and friends.

Some people heal best by helping others. Try volunteering at an organization who help people with a greater need than yours. i.e. A soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, orphanages, etc. Often the best therapy is helping others. Aside from the obvious benefits of keeping your mind occupied and seeing that there are others in worse situations than yourself, charity work gives you a tremendous feeling of fulfillment. It can give you a renewed sense of purpose, so important during times of sadness.

Above all else, give yourself permission to enjoy yourself, to laugh, and to find peace. Each of these things are part of healing. Your life will never be the same, but it will go on, and it can still be good. I want you to close your eyes for just a moment. Bring into the room with you the clearest image of the person that you have lost. Now say I love you and I miss you. You will always be in my heart. I need to know… is it okay for me to be happy again?

Now, imagine the answer that you receive. If you remember your loved one in their true light, I m confident the answer will be YES. Find peace over the holidays, and be good to you.

Sources that may be helpful: