Hanging on through the holidays when you've lost someone you love

Beth Marshall

The music, smell of gingerbread, and shimmering lights usually stir up warm holiday memories, but this year something is missing. Actually, someone is missing, and the holiday cheer seems to be making things worse. My most intense journey of grief came suddenly, beginning weeks before the holidays with the death of my mom. “Beazy” was more than a mom; she was my best friend. The thought of Christmas without her was impossible to imagine.

If you’ve lost someone close this year, you may understand. Maybe you’re wondering how you’ll be able to hang on through the holidays. If you’re tempted to pull the covers over your head and hibernate through December, don’t give up. Hopefully, one of these tips will bring a smile this season.

1. Keep it fresh. 

You may have seen Beazy on the interstate. She was the cautious driver with loud Christmas music playing and a wreath on her blue Honda. After her death, some of the most comforting moments I recall were spent writing in my journal, remembering her hilarious stories. The journal was also a safe place, somewhere I didn’t have to pretend everything was OK.

Consider creating a place to keep your memories, photos, and special recipes. Telling the classic stories of the person you’re missing this holiday season and in years to come is a beautiful way to honor their memory.

2. Keep it simple. 

Can you imagine December without a manic pace of cooking, decorating, entertaining, shopping, and events? Would you consider taking a break from the insanity this year, and experiencing the parts of the holidays you love?

With the hard work of grief, this is a perfect time to think about letting stressful holidays go, maybe forever. Simplifying your schedule can create a little calmness during a chaotic season of life.

3. The Blessing Box

Is there a gift your loved one gave you, not a tangible gift but something else? Think about something you received, because they were part of your life. Maybe it was the gift of laughter or compassion. Dr. Darcie D. Sims, director of the American Grief Academy, suggests writing whatever comes to your mind on small strips of paper and putting them in a box.

Keep the box somewhere close. Whenever you open your blessing box, you’ll be reminded of the person you’re missing and the unique gifts they gave you. One of the treasured gifts in my blessing box is the unconditional love Beazy gave me. I’m smiling right now just thinking about her gift.

Hold your priceless gifts close this holiday season.

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