For many people the holiday season is the happiest time of year, but for many people who have lost someone they love to death it can also be an incredibly difficult time of year. I was reminded of this over the last several days as a dear friend of mine lost his father and then my little brother lost one of his best friends.
Losing someone you love hurts, a lot. It’s a pain that never really goes away, it just becomes a little more bearable as time goes on. And even if your religious believes are that you will that person again someday in the eternities (which helps tremendously and I am so grateful for that testimony), there is still the hurt of dealing with missing someone during the rest of your time here on this earth. It’s missing the little things about them – their smile, the inside jokes you shared with each other, their hugs, the way they laughed, the way they listened and understood you, walking together, crying together, celebrating life’s important moments together, praying together, and a million other little things about that person that brought you into your life. It’s simply missing all of those things. That’s hard, and it aches in your heart. I know from losing grandparents that passed as well as a best friend that died unexpectedly. I miss each of them dearly and there isn’t a day that goes by that they don’t have a part of my heart.
I think it is only natural that the times we miss them the most are the times where family and friends who felt like family typically come together to celebrate with each other, like the Christmas holiday season (I include Hanukkah, Diwali, and every other religious holiday during this season of the year that people are celebrating around the world). This time of year inspires us to think of family and friends so it is to be expected that we feel more love toward those still living and more loss for those who aren’t with us.
I don’t have the perfect solution for how to deal with the hurt of loss during this season but I will share a few things that have helped me personally to cope with it:
*Doing something special “in memory of” a person you lost during the holiday brings me tremendous peace and helps me feel closer to the person who died. Think of something that meant a lot to the person you lost and do an act of service in their name that they would have been excited about. For example if the person loved to read you could collect children’s books and place a sticker in the front of each book saying it is donated in loving memory of the person’s name that has passed on and then deliver those to a local children’s hospital. If they loved teddy bears you could collect and donate those, if they loved playing games you could collect games and take them to a hospital or rest home, and so on.
*If the person that passed was someone who was known for helping others you could set a goal for yourself to help someone in need every day this month in honor of your friend that passed.
*For part of your Christmas Eve celebration you could incorporate a new tradition of having each person share a favorite story of the person who passed on every year so you are including the memory of that person in your annual tradition.
*If the person who passed had a favorite dish you could serve it each year at your celebration in memory of them.
*Go shopping and buy a gift that the person who passed on would have loved you to give to them for Christmas and then give it to a person in need.
I think the most helpful thing for dealing with it is to include their memory as part of the celebration, not in a sad way, but in a joyful and celebratory way. Make it a happy tradition about them. That is what helps me get through the sadness of missing the person and maybe it will help some of you as well. I would also welcome any of you who have come up with ways to help you get through sadness of loss during the holidays to post your ideas in the comments. If they help even one person out their going through this it will be worth every second it took you to post it, I promise.
With love and encouragement,