Hearing Mariah Carey on repeat, putting up the festive Christmas lights or baking black cake isn't quite the same this year. The celebrations which were once something you anticipated are now something you dread. You envy the persons who could be festive or you may even wish they'd turn down the music, take down the lights and ignore this holiday season. 2021 has been a tough year for some of us and may even be harder for those who lost a loved one. Celebrating the holidays without a mother, father, sibling, significant other or even a best friend can be extremely daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Below are some things that can be used to help with the pain of celebrating the holidays without your loved ones.
Trust that grieving or missing your loved one is part of the healing process. Although it is a common belief that time heals most of the pain associated with loss, it is not necessarily the time but what is done during the time. Through grieving, you heal from the loss of a loved one and for that reason, you must experience or feel the pain instead of trying to avoid it.
2. Set healthy boundaries. Whilst keeping the holiday traditions may be important if it's likely to bring up painful memories of your loved one it is okay to say no. Know that it is okay to say no to the festivities or the parties when asked and stand your ground even when others are trying to convince you. Remember you know what your needs are, so take care of yourself.
3. Focus on what you can control and plan ahead. Can you control how many times the mall would play all I want for Christmas? Probably not! What you can do is control your reactions to the song or whatever may trigger the feelings of grief. Thinking about the things you can do to lessen the heartache and doing them can be beneficial. This can look different for everyone, for some, it may be decorating the Christmas tree to honor the loved one or another skipping the holiday celebration to protect their mental well-being.
4. Create a plan on what can be done for comfort. What are the things that make you happy?
is it a good book, binge-watching 18 seasons of Grey's anatomy, or going to the beach? Whatever it is make an effort to do it as it would help to relieve the distressing symptoms of grief. Also, forming a support system can be beneficial to you at this time.
5. Allow yourself to feel the range of emotions. Spending the holiday season without your loved one may bring up sadness, it is also normal to feel the joy associated with the holidays. You may also feel guilt about enjoying the celebrations or guilt for not taking part in the celebrations without your loved one. You may also feel anger, anger with God for taking them away from your anger to your friends for having a good time. You may be jealous of those who get to spend the holidays with their loved ones. Whatever the emotions that may come up know that it is important to acknowledge, feel and process them.
Don't be afraid to reach out to a trusted friend or a professional if you're struggling.