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Elder Law and Estate Planning Blog - Lancaster, PA

Monday, December 24, 2012

Getting through the Holidays when You've Lost a Loved One

The holiday season is normally a joyous time of year, but if you've recently lost a loved one, it can be hard to celebrate.  Here are a few ways to try and make the season a little more cheerful.

  • Offer yourself some grace.  Remember that you are grieving and be realistic about what you expect.  You don’t have to do certain things for this holiday to be “normal” and the word ought should be left out of the season this year.  Decide what is important this year and do only that.  The other things can always be added back in the years to come.  Finally, plan ahead so that you aren’t overburdened with last minute responsibilities.
  • Be kind to yourself and acknowledge limits.  Get the rest and nutrition you need.  Take care of yourself physically, as grief can be a great source of stress on the body.  Don’t numb your pain by overindulging on sweets, but also don’t deny yourself the pleasure of good food and companionship. Your loved one would want you to be smiling.  Exercise is an important stress reliever and a mood elevator.  Don’t feel obligated to accept every invitation and responsibility thrown your way; only do what feels right to you.  Follow what your heart and body are telling you, and the holidays will pass much more peacefully.
  • Keep and adapt cherished traditions.  Keep traditions alive in a way that makes sense with your new reality; the possibilities are endless, whether it’s a new twist on an old tradition or a completely new one.  Do whatever feels right for you and your family.  If you are alone this year because of your loss, find a way to share the holidays with others; you may find yourself forging new bonds over shared losses.  Don’t compare your holidays to others; embrace what you still have.
  • Look for joy in the tears.  Understand that when unpacking decorations, you will be unpacking both loving memories and heartaches.  Don’t deny yourself the gift of healing tears for these heartaches, and don’t be surprised if the tears come when you least expect it.  You will be remembering both the pain and the wonderful moments of your loved one’s life; celebrate these joys and the joys they brought you.  And remember, you will survive this season.

We hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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