The holidays are a time of celebration, especially after the year we’ve just had. Unfortunately, this time of year can be difficult following the death of a loved one. While others celebrate with those they cherish most, holiday depression can creep in for those who lost a friend or family member. Due to COVID019, more people than ever are currently in the middle of their grieving process.
Whether your loss is recent or decades ago, depression during the holidays is normal. However, we don’t have to let it ruin what should otherwise be a festive time. Here are some tips on how to get through the holidays after the death of a loved one.
How to Deal with the Death of a Loved One During the Holidays
The grieving process is unique for everybody. It’s one of the most challenging things you’ll ever go through. Dealing with loss during the holidays seems even more difficult.
From Thanksgiving until New Year’s, people are in celebration mode. They partake in traditions and create memories that last a lifetime.
When someone is no longer there to be a part of these celebrations, it creates a huge void. The dynamic has changed, and it can stir up a ton of buried emotions.
Holiday depression is real. There’s no need to deny it. Face this realization head-on. Here’s how to get through the holidays after the death of a friend or family member.
Don’t Overanalyze Your Emotions
Your loved ones don’t want you to grieve them forever. However, they wouldn’t want you to forget them, either.
For many of us, coping with loss means shutting off our emotions. We tend to bury anything that can trigger anxiety and pain. So, we stop mentioning those who are no longer with us or partaking in activities that once involved them.
Holiday traditions bring us joy. They trigger happy memories. Even those who still have all of their loved ones present can get emotional thinking about past holiday celebrations. Crying and missing simpler and happier times is a natural reaction.
So, if you are dealing with loss during the holidays, don’t confuse your emotions. Crying doesn’t necessarily mean you’re grieving.
There can be a mixture of happy tears. These tears can be therapeutic so just let them out.
Holiday traditions are a fabric of our family. My grandfather used to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas around the chimney every year. I still felt like a child listening to him when I was 22!
When he passed, my mother didn’t want the tradition to end. So, she asked my father to take over. While it’s not the same as my grandfather reading the tale, I can tell it brings my mother great happiness to see someone she loves carrying this tradition forward.
I will never look forward to my father’s death. However, I do look forward to carrying this legacy forward for my children to enjoy. Hopefully, they will do the same.
The point is, don’t lock away these traditions. There’s a reason why a loved one introduced them to your life. It brought them joy to share these happy moments with you. Honor them by paying it forward with those you care about most.
Create New Traditions
Traditions have to start somewhere! You can always take what you liked about past rituals and add a new twist to them.
Say your great grandmother detested blintzes. So, she doubled down on the rugelach and sufganiyah for Hanukkah dessert.
Due to her dislike of blintzes, these treats were never a part of your holiday traditions. However, you love these pastries!
Honor great-grandma with either rugelach or sufganiyah. Just make sure you have room for the blintzes you want!
You can also make brand new traditions. The whole point of family to continue the lineage. Come up with annual rituals that you want to enjoy with your family for decades to come.
For instance, some young families feel the pressure of visiting both sides of the family on Christmas. These responsibilities become even more stressful if grandparents are divorced. Some of us end up visiting four households in one day! Although during COVID, this year might look different.
Stretching yourself thin on the holidays zaps the joy out of them. Create new traditions that are convenient for you and allow you to be more present.
Reach out to loved ones about a Christmas Eve get-together instead or have a celebration the day after. The date shouldn’t matter as much as the company and love shared.
These examples are very specific. You can tailor the concept to meet any of your needs. Figure out a way to honor those who you care about most and make new traditions you want to carry forth for generations to come.
One of the most challenging aspects of dealing with loss during the holidays is reminders that their physical presence is no longer there. These sad moments are most felt by the empty chair or the lack of presents under the tree.
Don’t allow the spot they used to sit to be empty. Buy a memory candle and put it in their place. Light the candle before dinner, spinning the dreidel, or exchanging gifts.
If you are religious or spiritual, consider saying a prayer or meditation. Speaking of, there are many guided meditations online that you can use as a resource for how to deal with the death of a loved one.
You can choose a candle that’s their favorite color or scent. Many companies offer to engrave names and messages into the candle. It’s up to you how personalized you want to make the experience.
Also, don’t get too attached to the placement of this candle. Your holiday traditions will evolve with time. Families grow. There might be a day where someone else “takes their seat.”
Don’t fight it. Your loved one wants you to be happy. Just light a candle, say “hello,” and be present with those you love most.
Donate to Their Favorite Charity
This time of year is a time to give back. Honor those you miss most by giving back in their memory.
The best way to combat holiday depression is through volunteerism. It’s an opportunity to step outside of your own emotions and channel them into something positive. Volunteering offers a much-needed distraction when you’re going through the grieving process.
This “distraction” is far more healthy than binge-watching television or drinking alcohol. The end result is positive and betters the community as a whole.
Think about the person you’re missing during the holiday season. What did they feel passionate about? Get involved with that cause. At times, this might help you feel closer to this person.
Scrapbooks and Video Frames
As you decorate for the holidays, consider including pictures of your loved ones. They don’t even need to be festive pictures. It’s just nice to have physical and tangible mementos of them.
During the holiday season, sit down with loved ones and look at pictures of those who have passed. Consider creating a digital album that you can stream to your tablet as a wallpaper, smartTV screensaver, or digital picture frame.
It might be even more therapeutic to go the old-fashioned route. Make a scrapbook. Print out your favorite pictures. Hold them in your hand.
Unlike a digital picture that you can zoom into, a printed photograph is something you can hold as close to your face as you’d like, for as long as you need. Look at the little nuances of your loved one’s smirk or dimples. Take it all in, and cherish the time you spent together.
Sometimes the grieving process is too much for us to cope with. The death of a family member or friend can be too heavy a burden to bear. This pain makes dealing with loss during the holidays almost impossible. If this sounds like your scenario, please consider talking to a specialist.
Talking to a therapist is a great way to get professional help. Not to make your holiday depression sound insignificant, but they deal with this stuff all the time! They have coping mechanisms that you might never think of trying.
Also, it’s nice to vent to someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in you. Other people in your inner circle might be going through the same grieving process following the death of a friend or family member.
They have their own stuff to work through. Sure, you should lean on each other for support. However, this loved one shouldn’t be the sole system to prop you up. It’s too much to ask of them, also.
If you can’t afford a therapist, you are not alone. Please consider chatting with a trained specialist at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) hotline. This confidential service is free 24 hours per day. Please call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for help.
Tranquility Labs’ Ayurvedic Ashwagandha 1000
One study compared the resting cortisol levels of wives who were anticipating their husbands’ passing and those who recently lost their spouses. Results found that those who experienced the loss had a 3% rise in stress hormones compared to those anticipating their spouses’ death.
Now, compound the emotions surrounding the death of a loved one with regular holiday stress. All of these factors can take an immense toll on your mental well-being!
I have found that using all-natural supplements, such as Tranquility Labs’ Ayurvedic Ashwagandha 1000, has really helped me manage this stress.
Whenever we experience too much stress, it creates a hormonal imbalance. In particular, our bodies produce excessive amounts of cortisol.
Research shows that too much cortisol can increase blood pressure, ruin sleep cycles, and promote more stress. Thankfully, ashwagandha can combat this surplus of stress hormones.
Ashwagandha is a root plant that is known in Ayurvedic circles as “Indian ginseng.” It can help boost your mood, improve your cognitive function, and promote blood circulation.
What I love about Tranquility Labs’ Ayurvedic Ashwagandha is that it is formulated with KSM-66. KSM-66 is a highly concentrated ashwagandha extract. Studies with this potent compound found it can decrease perceived stress levels by 44%!
Whenever stress becomes too much, my mind gets pulled in thousands of directions. As stress coincides with holiday depression, my mind tends to drift towards sad memories and feelings of hopelessness.
Using ashwagandha daily helps me reel in those scattered thoughts. It allows me to be more conscious of my gradual mood changes. That way, I can get ahead of the emotional downward spiral that comes with dealing with loss during the holidays.
How to Get Through the Holidays After Death of Someone Close
Losing a loved one isn’t easy. We will go through tons of emotions as we heal. Even when you’ve reached the last step of the grieving process, which is acceptance, you might still struggle with depression during the holidays.
These feelings are normal. You lost an important person in your life, and time cannot completely erase the sorrow. The best you can do is to channel those emotions into something positive. Celebrate their lives and continue on with the holiday traditions that you hold dear.
Even if they’re not with you, you’re still not alone. Light a memory candle in their honor and tweak traditions to continue their legacy.
It’s also okay to ask for help. Speak to a therapist or the SAMHSA hotline. Also, try using all-natural supplements, such as Tranquility Labs’ Ayurvedic Ashwagandha 1000, to curb daily stress.
The holidays should be a time of joy. This year can really use that positivity. Don’t allow the death of a loved one to hinder your festivities. Celebrate in their honor, and it will help ease the pain of dealing with loss during the holidays.
- Feel your emotions, but don’t confuse happy tears with holiday depression
- Continue and start new holiday traditions as way to honor your loved ones
- Talk to a therapist if you’re suffering during this grieving process