Coping with Your First Holiday After Losing a Loved One

The holidays are traditionally a time of celebration. But, for those who have just lost a loved one, it can be very difficult and sad with feelings of loss and emptiness that are greatly intensified.

Here are some ways to cope with your range of emotions during the holidays:

  1. Consider whether acknowledging the loss would be helpful – There are many ways to honor your loved one during the holidays. Ask guests to share a favorite story or make a toast. Set a place at your table with a photo of your loved one. Sharing memories of your loved one can be part of the healing process and may even turn into a new holiday tradition.
  2. Play their favorite holiday music – Celebrating the holidays often includes music. If your loved one enjoyed singing or had a favorite holiday song, you might consider caroling around the neighborhood in their memory or having a family holiday sing-along. You can also add their favorite song to a holiday playlist.
  3. Make their favorite meal – Add their favorite dish to the holiday menu or if they were especially handy in the kitchen, turn one of their recipes into a holiday staple that you make every year.
  4. Remember traditions don’t have to be perfect – It’s understandable that after your family suffers a loss, you want everything to be perfect. But keep in mind that your family event won’t feel perfect without your loved one. Think back to past family parties and remember that it’s those perfectly imperfect events that are the most memorable. Building on those memories and strengthening family bonds will create a stronger and more secure environment to deal with loss and grief.

For more information on programs at Gilda’s Club Westchester for those living with loss or to sign up for a support group or activity, please call 914.644.8844 or visit our website.