Are you navigating your first holiday season since the loss of a loved one? Are you trying to hold it together this winter, but are feeling flooded with memories of the person you lost this year? The holiday season is supposed to be full of joy and cheer, but for many people, it can be clouded by sadness. If this sounds like you, we offer this message in hopes that it will offer you some peace.
You are allowed to feel sad. You are allowed to miss the person you lost. And you are allowed to talk about her.
Think about your favorite stories with this person, and share them with your loved ones. Bake Grandma’s special cinnamon rolls, and tell your kids how she used to roll the dough out just right. Remind everyone of the silly sayings that Grandma could never get quite right. Pull out old photos and tell your kids about Grandma’s love for adventure. Talk, talk, talk. It might be hard. But it is harder still to keep it all inside.
People might be afraid to bring this person up in your presence, because they worry that it will remind you of your loss. But you know that you don’t need reminding. You’re already thinking about her all the time. Let your loved ones know not to worry about talking about her. Bring her up. Share happy memories. Tell them you want to hear their favorite stories, too.
If it helps, write down your favorite memories – how she had that mischievous little smile, how she always wrapped presents with the perfect bow on top, how she made friends everywhere she went. Consider a memory book where you and other loved ones capture these stories that can be read year after year.
Continue with your rituals. What rituals did you share with her? Did you decorate the tree? Did you bake special dishes together? Did you drive around and look at lights? These rituals that were so important while she was alive are equally important now. You might feel sad as you engage in these rituals for the first time without her, but it is even more difficult to try to push those memories aside. As you continue with these important traditions, you are honoring her memory. You are giving value to the relationship you shared, and you are passing it on to others.
These things won’t make the sadness go away. Not right away, anyway. But you can learn to find peace in honoring her memory.
If you have a friend or family member going through this holiday season with a cloud of sadness, reach out. Share in their memories, and provide a glimmer of sunlight for them.
Wishing peace to all this holiday season.