HOLIDAYS CAN BE HARD WHEN YOU LOSE SOMEONE! Losing a loved one around the holiday is always challenging for future holiday events. My sister transitioned 12/2/08, exactly 8 years ago. My grandmother passed about 4 years ago. My mom died 37 years ago. I was chatting w/my mom-in-law who lost her brother and her mom over 30 yrs ago. She shared how the holidays can be the hardest to get through as it is a reminder of the lost. For me, it still feels a little raw. Not as bad as the first holiday without my sister, but still sore. Like a 2-3 day old cut that still hurt when you touch it. It is not completely healed.
I am sure if you lost someone during a major holiday, it can be painful to be at family events. But, what I have learned in my experience, and even talking with my mom-in-law, remembering is important to deal with the process. However, remembering can bring out strong emotions that we have not dealt with yet or maybe didn't realize we needed to deal with. So, what can we do? Here are a few tips:
Draw nearer to share your pain vs retreat into the pain of lost alone. This is the time to embrace family members that are still here. Talk about your loved ones who have passed on with other family members. Share your experience and listen to their experience. Lean on family. Tell the younger generation of family members about the amazing person the passed loved one was in this life. Cry and laugh with those of your family who remember that person and support their memorial in honor of the passed loved one.
It's also important to grieve if you feel sad. Unfortunately, many of us think that grief should be only a few days, weeks or at the most a few months. But, grief can take years to process, even if you had a strained relationship with someone who has passed. Grief takes time and it can also come in waves over time. I lost my mom 37 years ago, and I may cry when I think about her. Its ok to have grieving periods.
Find ways to remember. Post a virtual memorial. Light a candle during family events. Take time to celebrate or remember the person during events (see point 1). Or, do something that incorporates an experience about the loved one. For example, I (try to) make my grandmother's sweet potato pie and I light a candle for my sister and mom. I may drink my sister's and mom's favorite beverages during the holiday.
We don't have to bury our memories or feelings with the physical bodies of our loved ones. In fact, remembering is how we make sure our loved ones who are not physically with us are part of the holidays---that's what, I think, they would want. So, I give remembrance to my sister, Asia, my mom Denise and gramma Vie, my great-grandma Pinky and the aunts and uncles, and my godson, who left a great impression on me. I miss them but I remember them. I talk about them to my 9 mo old granddaughter, my children, and anyone who wants to listen. I attend family events to embrace those who are still with us and love on them while I can. The best way I can explain it is like this: it's like ointment to a wound. While the wound of loss hurts, the ointment of remembering and embracing family soothes and heals.