You may hurt, but you will survive. The holidays may be the worst of your grief time. Eventually, you will heal, and your memories will persist without pain. Meanwhile, it’s OK not to have a good time. There may be no way you can make this holiday fun and there may be nothing you want to do. Allow that you may not enjoy the parties, reunions and events of the season. If you are hurting and unable or unwilling to have your attention on anything else, let yourself be.
It is also OK to have a good time, even though you have experienced a loss. You do not have to deny pleasure to yourself or your family. While grieving, we often feel guilty about having fun, as if we should be miserable all twenty-four hours a day. That is not necessary. Often, we think it is how much we grieve that signifies how much we care about the one who died. Not true! Our love is not measured by the extent of our grief. We can love forever without having grief as our testimonial to that love. Remember, few of us would want others to be forever bereft because we were gone.
Perhaps the best testimonial we can give to our missing loved ones is how we live our lives. Don’t deny yourself life because someone has died. If you can do so, enjoy the holidays and every day, for death teaches us, more than anything, that every day of life is precious and worth living to the fullest. The best gift we can give ourselves and others for the holidays and every day is to live our lives wholeheartedly.
Symbolic Ways to Honor Our Loved Ones
- Purchase a special remembrance candle. Place it in a prominent place in your home. Burn it all day or at special, selected times.
- Place a special flower or bouquet of flowers on a table by a photograph.
- Attend a religious service.
- Visit the cemetery.
- Spend spiritual quiet time alone.
- Include a memory of your loved one in your holiday cards.
- At holiday gatherings, ask people to write a memory on a piece of paper and place it in a basket by the door. It may comfort you and encourage others to share their memories.
- Buy flowers for your church or other organization in memory of your loved one for many people to enjoy.
Grief is a natural part of life when someone we love dies. Finding your way through the changes and often painful emotions that arise during the days, weeks and months that follow a death can be difficult. You don’t have to do it alone. Hospice of Santa Cruz County has helped thousands of people through their grief journey. If you'd like information on our services available to help through our Grief Support Program, please call (831) 430-3000 or visit our website at www.hospicesantacruz.org/patients-family-community/grief-support-services.