The holiday season can be challenging for those of us who have lost loved ones. Grief triggers are all around. Avoidance, alcohol, drugs, excess shopping and denial are common unhealthy coping tactics. Below we have curated a list of 10 healthy ways to remember your loved ones who are no longer here during the holiday season.
- Accept your emotions: Understand that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. You can feel confused or content, tearful or thankful. You may find yourself sad at one moment and wanting to laugh in the next. Don't think you have to be one way or the other. Allow yourself to feel. Understand that grief has no timeline. Whether your loved one passed away this year or a decade ago, it is okay to feel a full range of emotions.
- Change the tradition: If doing holiday traditions without your loved one is hard, that's okay. Change the location or the way that you typically celebrate. This can be a bittersweet way to come up with some new traditions!
- Take a Dear Photograph photo: Missing a loved one may leave you wishing you could travel back to a time and place where you were once with them. Dear Photograph allows you to do that. Hold up a physical photograph from the past in front of the place where it was originally taken, take a second picture, and write a statement about what the picture means to you. You can post your results on the Dear Photograph website and look at touching examples. Also feel free to just do the activity privately.
- Start a journal: Start a "thoughts of you" journal. Get a journal (or use your phone notes) and every time you think of your loved one, write down the memory, thought, or feeling. This will help you get the feelings out. Also, in the future you can return back to your journal to read memories you have of that person.
- Tell them how you feel: Losing someone abruptly can be especially difficult to deal with when you had words left unsaid. Write a note to them telling them exactly what you need to. Keep it, bury it, burn it or release it outside. Do whatever will help you feel a sense of closure.
- Experience their favorite things: Spend time singing your loved one's favorite songs, watching their favorite movies, cooking their favorite dish or whatever activities they enjoyed.
- Create a board of memories: Make a board of memories to put on display. Get as creative as you can! Add pictures, quotes, tickets from a movie you caught, maybe a piece of fabric from a shirt they loved! The things you can add are endless--add anything that reminds you of your loved one!
- Light a candle: Light a candle to signify your loved one's presence in your heart and mind. Light it during the day's when you miss them the most. Maybe even place it next to a picture of them. A scented candle is also a good way to help reduce stress.
- Take care of yourself: Take some time to honor your care. Take some time to pamper and relax.
- Ask for help: Just because people aren't asking, doesn't mean they don't care. Ask for help when you're struggling, need company or someone to talk to. Identify specific people that will be able to support and help you. Let your family and friends know that you are having a rough time. Look for support groups and contact a professional counselor to help you deal with your grief in a healthy manner.
These are just a few of the many ways to remember loved ones who are no longer here in a healthy manner. Continue to carry on! Let us know in the comments if you try any of these tips or share other helpful suggestions that have worked for you!