Through the years we’ve offered many workshops for the bereaved on how to cope throughout the holiday season.  Today we offer you what we’ve learned from those grieving the death of a loved one.

  • My family collects superhero toys all year long. In December we go to the children’s hospital and donate them in honor of my son who died when he was eight.  Drew loved Spiderman.
  • It’s comforting to me to keep our old family traditions alive even though some moments can be painful. We do everything exactly the same as we always have.
  • I only shop online.  Mom and I always went holiday shopping together and now it hurts too much to go into the stores and see all the decorations.  So I just shop online. 
  • We decorate our Christmas tree with Mother’s costume jewelry.  She had tons of it.  Our tree looks amazing and as we put up each necklace or pin or bracelet, we share stories about mom.  The first year it was really sad, but now it’s fun and has become a tradition.
  • I make my Auntie Clara’s cranberry relish.  Nobody likes it, but I still make it in her honor.
  • I give myself 30 minutes to listen to songs that make me cry.  I go into the depths of my sadness and then move on.
  • The first two years I stopped sending greeting cards, but I think I might start this year.  I think I might write one of those letters where you give updates on your family.  There are some people who would like to hear from us.
  • I will pull out my never-ending scrapbook and create a new page that both celebrates the holiday and honors my parents.  It’s been a tough year.
  • I volunteer at a soup kitchen and feed the homeless.  It gives me a sense of purpose.
  • I always have a get-away plan.  When I go to the family dinner or the office party, I drive my own car and park in the street so I don’t get stuck in the driveway.  That way I can leave whenever I want.
  • My children and I bake all the cookies and favorite dishes of my husband.  Joe loved sugar cookies and would make them with the kids.  Now it’s my job.  We make a day of it by playing Joe’s favorite music as loud as we can and making a mess in the kitchen.  We laugh and we cry.  It’s great.
  • We go to the cemetery.
  • Above the fireplace, we place candles and greenery around her photo.  It feels like she is there even though she isn’t physically present.
  • My grandfather loved sports and instilled the love for exercise in us.  We start a Thanksgiving morning with a 5K run and head back to the house for food and festivities.
  • I go to my daughter’s Facebook page and read the comments from all her friends.  It’s bittersweet but brings me comfort.

The holidays are a challenge for many who are grieving. Remember there is no right or wrong or good or bad way to grieve. Do what works for you and be kind to yourself this holiday season.

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