‘Tis the Season to Celebrate a Beautiful Life
The Holidays are the most joyous and festive time of the year, with Hanukkah and Christmas decorations in seemingly every store, carols on the radio, and Christmas lights lining every street.
However, if you’ve recently suffered the loss of a loved one, these festivities can ring hollow. Grieving is difficult any time of the year, but can hit especially hard during the Holidays, particularly if your loved one died during this season, or if this is the first season you’ll spend without them.
But it is possible to find your way to peace during the Holiday season, even if your loss still feels fresh. We’ve put together a few tips that will help you celebrate your loved one’s beautiful life by cherishing the Holiday traditions they loved, and creating some new memories and traditions they would love.
These ideas are meant to respect the necessity of grieving and to honor the memory of your loved one, while giving you a sense of control over the process, and allowing you to start your journey of recovery.
7 Ways to Celebrate a Beautiful Life During the Holidays
1: Light a memorial and keep it burning
Lighting a memorial during the Holidays is a beautiful, peaceful way to symbolize your loved one’s eternal soul, and to have a constant reminder of their presence. Candles have always had an important role to play in both celebrations, and in mourning. You may want to consider scented candles, which are a proven way to help reduce stress, or even creating a memorial candle lantern.
Creating a memory lantern, especially when done with a child, is a great way to spend time talking and reflecting on your deceased loved one. It can sometimes be difficult getting children to talk about their feelings, but this activity provides a structure and purpose for sharing that can make it feel less awkward. When you’re done, the lantern will serve as a lasting reminder of your loved one and memories you continue to treasure. ~Litsa Williams, www.whatsyourgrief.com
2: Hang stockings or give a small gift to the departed
Does your family have a cherished tradition, such as hanging stockings or giving small gifts? Continue to celebrate that tradition by hanging their stocking. Ask the mourners to write short memorial notes, stories, or cherished memories on small pieces of paper or holiday cards and place them in the stocking. These will become a great source of solace in years to come. Take them out again and add to them every Holiday season. Your family may want to read them on birthdays, anniversaries, important holidays or other dates that were important to the deceased in order to preserve and celebrate.
3: Give a gift to a child in need, or donate to a charity in your loved one’s name
There are several charities whose mission is to ensure that every child has a happy holiday season by making sure they receive a gift. These are just a few of the organization that we donate to each year:
- Eric Cares (www.therewithcare.org) provides Holiday gifts and a pre-cooked Holiday meal for families who are dealing with a child in medical crisis.
- Soldier’s Secret Santa (www.soldierssecretsanta.org) sends Toys R Us gift cards to the families of deployed soldiers, sailors, and warriors two weeks before Christmas. Long deployments are both financially and emotionally tough on families. If your loved one was in the Service, this would be a great choice.
- Donate toys, time, or money to Toys for Tots (www.toysfortots.org). You can use this tool to find your local chapter.
- Second Chance Toys (www.secondchancetoys.org) is an organization that donates gently used plastic toys to kids in need at Holiday time, helping a needy child, and keeping a toy out of the landfill at once. Operating on the East Coast, you can find a drop off location here.
4: Celebrate the Season as a Tribute to Your Loved One
Family gatherings are supposed to be fun, so if there was a holiday activity the deceased especially loved (snowball fights, playing cards or board games, or singing carols), keep doing that activity as a way to remember them in happy times. First of all, fun drives out depression. Secondly, your deceased would want you to continue to enjoy these events. Thirdly, the act of planning and participating in whatever activity you choose will occupy your mind with something other than your own sadness.
5: Create a Memorial Ornament
For those who celebrate Christmas, remember your loved one by creating a memorial ornament for your tree. This is an especially great idea if the deceased enjoyed crafts and liked to make things. Pinterest can provide some inspiration, or you may choose to work with an Une Belle Vie Custom Urn Curator to create a custom memorial ornament that will be there for you every Holiday season.
6: Create a Seasonal In-home Memorial
Select a place of honor in which to display a photograph or the urn holding your loved one’s cremains over the Holidays—such as the mantle of your fireplace. This seasonal in-home memorial will serve as a reminder of their continued presence in your Holiday traditions, and your love for them.
7: Take it easy on unhealthy food, caffeine, and cocktails
Alcohol, fatty foods, and even too much coffee are all culprits when it comes to making all types of stress worse than they need to be. Unfortunately, ‘tis the season for office parties, family get-togethers, and the constant presence of Holiday cookies and treats around the office—making it especially tough to resist temptation. While there’s no need to avoid all festivities (which would be emotionally unhealthy itself), limit yourself to one or two drinks, and don’t camp out near the hors d’oeuvre table at any parties you attend.
Don’t just grieve for your beloved – celebrate for them as well.
Grieving is a natural response to what you’re going through right now, with defined emotional, mental and even physical stages. But you don’t have to give into the depression, to which grief can lead.
Your loved ones would want you to rediscover the joy of the Holiday season, especially if it was a time of peace and joy for them. Joining in the Holiday celebrations is not disrespectful of your loved one; it’s a way to acknowledge that love and joy are transcendent, which has always been one of the most important lessons of this Holiday season.
There’s No Right or Wrong Way to Grieve
Many bereaved family members, friends, and loved ones of the deceased have difficulty understanding and managing their grieving process. This may be because certain ideas about grief and coping have been perpetuated throughout our culture to the point where they have become accepted as facts. Here, we debunk 4 of the most pernicious myths about the process of grieving that may be preventing you from coping in a healthy way.
Myth 1: Ignoring your pain will make it go away faster.
Burying, ignoring or hiding your pain – whether for the benefit of those around you or for yourself – will only make it worse in the long run, as it festers and becomes a downward spiral of depression. The most healthy way to “get over,” grief is simply to face it, and actively accept it as a natural result of great loss.
Myth 2: You have to be “strong” in the face of grief.
So called strength can look a lot different to different people. Being lonely and afraid, feeling small and even temporarily helpless is not a sign of weakness. These feelings are perfectly natural and we all experience them during times of grief. True strength is discovered not by pretending that you don’t have these emotions, but by finding a healthy path through them.
Myth 3: If you don’t cry, you really aren’t sorry about the loss.
Crying is only one way we express grief or sadness. Those who do not cry in the face of loss may simply manifest their sadness in other ways.
Myth 4: Grieving should last about a year.
There is no time limit on grief. Just as each of us shows our grief in different ways, so does each of us grieve for the amount of time we need. For some this will be a few weeks or months, for others the process may take years.
If you have further questions about dealing with grief during the Holidays, please reach out to us in your time of need. Call 1-877-659-2305.