Family get-togethers may be extremely difficult.
Be honest with each other about your feelings.
Sit down with your family and decide what
you want to do for the holiday season. Don't
set expectations too high for yourself or the
day. If you wish things to be the same, you
are going to be disappointed. Do things a little
differently. Undertake only what each family
member can handle comfortably.
There is no right or wrong way to handle
the day. Some may wish to follow family traditions,
while others may choose to change.
Keep in mind the feelings of your children
or family members. Try to make the holiday
season as joyous as possible for them.
Be careful of "shoulds." It
is better to do what is most helpful for you
and your family. If a situation looks especially
difficult over the holidays, don't get involved
Set limitations. Realize that it isn't
going to be easy. Do the things that are very
special and/or important to you. Do the best
that you can.
Once you have made the decision on the
role you and your family will play during
the holidays, let relatives and friends know.
Baking and cleaning the house can get out
of proportion. If these chores are enjoyable,
go ahead, but not to the point that it is
tiring. Either buy baked goods or go without
If you used to cut your own tree, consider
buying it already cut this year. Let your
children, other family members, neighboring
teens, friends, or people from your church help
with the decorating of the tree and house. If
you choose not to have a tree this year, get
a ceramic tree or a small table top tree.
Emotionally, physically, and psychologically
it is draining. You need every bit of strength.
Try to get enough rest.
What you choose to do the first year you
don't have to do the next.
One possibility for the first year may
be to visit relatives, friends, or even go
away on a vacation. Planning, packing, etc.,
keeps your mind somewhat off the holiday and
you share the time in a different and hopefully
less painful setting.
How do we answer, "Happy Holidays?" You
may say, "I'll try" or "Best wishes
to you." You thing of many answers that
you don't say.
If shopping seems to be too much, have
your relative or close friend help you. Consider
shopping through a catalogue.
If you are accustomed to having Christmas
dinner at your home, change and go to relatives,
or change the time (instead of 2 p.m., make
it 4 p.m.). Some find it helpful to be involved
in the activity of preparing a large meal. Serving
buffet style and/or eating in a different
room may help.
Try attending religious services at a
different time or church or synagogue.
Some people fear crying in public, especially
at religious services. It is usually better
not to push the tears down any time. You should
be gentle with yourself and not expect too much
of yourself. Worrying about crying is an additional
burden. If you let go and cry, you probably
will feel better. It should not ruin the day
for other family members, but will provide them
with the same freedom.
Cut back on your card sending. It is not
necessary to send cards, especially to those
people we will see over the holidays.
Do something for someone else, such as
volunteer work at soup kitchens or visit the
lonely and shut-ins. Ask someone who is alone
to share the day with your family. Provide
help for a needy family.
Donate a gift or money in your loved one's
Share your concerns, feelings, apprehensions,
etc. with a relative or friend as the holiday
approaches. Tell them that this is a difficult
time for you. Accept their help. You will
appreciate their love and support at this time.
Holidays often magnify feelings of loss
of a loved one. It is important and natural
to experience the sadness that comes. To block
such feelings is unhealthy. Keep the positive
memory of the loved one alive.
Often after the first year the people
in your life may expect you to be over it.
We are never over it but the experience of
many bereaved is that eventually they enjoy
the holidays again. Hold on to HOPE.
Don't forget, anticipation of any holiday
is so much worse than the actual holiday.