As the holidays approach, the Tabitha bereavement team would like to share with you some thoughts on how to take care of yourself when gathering with friends and family this holiday season. So often, the holidays come with anxieties and expectations. When a recent loss has occurred, it is important to make yourself a priority and give yourself permission to take the season at your own pace.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO
If certain family traditions are making you uncomfortable this year, don’t do them. For instance, don’t carve the turkey if you don’t want to or don’t sing along if you don’t want to. Be careful not to throw out all your traditions, but don’t be afraid to drop some either. You can always pick them up again later.
DROP BEFORE YOU SHOP
Feeling overwhelmed by a long gift list? Simplify. This is a perfect time to give yourself the gift of simplicity and the joy that comes with it!
CHECKING IT TWICE
Whether the holiday involves cooking, shopping, cleaning or organizing—let a list do the work for you! If you are grieving, your memory may not be up to par or you may be having trouble concentrating. That is normal. Rely on your notes and lists and keep them handy.
TELL ME AGAIN
Instead of trying to push back memories of the person you are grieving this holiday, ask friends and family members to share memories of the person with you using photographs, stories and mementos. Some families box, wrap, and give each other collections of memories. Trinkets or words that remind us of the family member or friend are especially enjoyed by and helpful for children.
WHERE’S THE PARTY?
Just because everyone always comes to your house for the holidays or special occasions, doesn’t mean they have to come this year. Feel free to try something new. Give yourself the space you need to grieve. Too tired to whip up your famous recipe? That’s okay. Let someone else prepare it to your specifications.
Be prepared for the holidays, as well as birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions, to be an emotional time for you. Don’t be surprised by tears and sadness—and don’t fight them off. Instead carry tissues. Tell the people you are with that you probably will cry and invite them to cry with you.
JUST SAY NO
If you are feeling pressured to participate in more than you are comfortable with, try saying “NO”. “No thank you”. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Be kind, but firm. People will want you to feel welcomed and included, but they will also understand that you need some time.
SHARE THE LOVE
Holidays and special occasions where gift giving is the custom may become difficult when you realize your loved one is no longer here. Consider buying a gift for someone who would otherwise not have a gift, or make a contribution to a charitable organization in that person’s name.
Most importantly, pay attention to yourself. Listen to that little voice that tells you that you are tired and need to take a break. Give yourself the option of not attending another party or event. Be sure to let your family know what you are up for, and how they can be helpful during the holidays.