The holiday season is finally here, and for many, it is a time to relax and spend time with their loved ones. But for you, this season may feel like a painful reminder that one of your friends or family members won't be unwrapping presents or hanging lights. While everyone else in your neighbourhood celebrates, you can't help but feel a little lonely or depressed.
While some degree of sadness is normal, you don't have to let the holidays get you down. In fact, this season is the perfect opportunity to spread happiness to others and perhaps find a little comfort for yourself.
The following tips can help you memorialize your loved one over the holidays.
1. Light a Memorial Candle
The holidays and candles go hand in hand throughout the world. During Hanukkah, Jewish family members light the nine-branched menorah. In Ireland, Christians celebrate with a Yule candle rather than a Yule log. And in Southern India, families put small clay lamps on their roofs. But no matter your religion or belief system, candles have long been symbols of the spirit, as they bring light into the darkness. When you light a candle for your loved one, you honour his or her life and light. Feel free to light a candle each day throughout the holidays and take a few moments to reflect on your loved one's memory.
2. Give the Gift of Good Memories
In the past, when you bought gifts for friends and family, you may have struggled to find that perfect present that ultimate expression of your relationship. You might have scoured store after store to find the right gift.
Now, this kind of holiday shopping may feel overwhelming. But before you stress, keep in mind that your friends and family are likely suffering from the same grief you are. Though they'll likely appreciate the usual appliances, toys, music and games, these kinds of gifts may seem a little shallow after the death of a loved one.
This holiday season, why not give the gift of good memories? Write, type or share your favourite memories of the deceased with friends and family members. If you have photos of your loved one, copy and frame them. Give the photos and stories as gifts to those still hurting after the funeral.
3. Donate to Your Favourite Charity
If you are like many other families, you may have set aside a budget specifically for buying presents for your loved one. This money now sits unused in a bank account or safe.
Though you could reinvest the money to cover funeral expenses, you could also use some of the cash to help others in need. When you donate to your favourite charity, the money could go toward food, clothing, and other essentials for those who might not otherwise enjoy the holidays.
These donations can further honour your loved one's memory by giving joy to others.
4. Serve Those Around You
If you don't have the funds to buy presents or donate to charity, you can still spread (and subsequently find) holiday happiness through acts of kindness and service. For example, you could cook meals and bake desserts and give them to neighbours in need. Or you could volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen.
You could draw and decorate your own season's greetings cards and send them to overseas military personnel. Or you could sing at a nursing home.
As you serve those around you, you not only honour your loved, but you shift your focus away from your personal pain and grief.
Enjoy Your Holidays
Although the above tips can help you cope with your loss, remember that you can still grieve during the holiday season. Give yourself time to mourn and heal. You can always celebrate next year, or even the year after, when you feel ready.