You Can Enjoy Holidays Without Your Loved One

Angelic Palliative & Hospice Care Blog - You Can Enjoy Holidays Without Your Loved One

A holiday is approaching and a visit to your local Hallmark card store can bring you to tears. It could be Mother's or Father's Day, or any holiday, birthday or family tradition and you are facing it without your loved one. The grief can overwhelm you regardless of how old you are, or how long it has been. These commemorative holidays are particularly challenging. The loss of people who play a key role in family traditions leaves an obvious hole in the holiday. Like a puzzle with missing pieces, the picture isn't complete.

"Holidays can be a special one even with loss," assures Margaret Pancoast, BSW, a social worker and bereavement coordinator with Angelic Palliative & Hospice Care. "Life does go on, and no one would want grief to overwhelm your life."

The following tips may help you enjoy holidays even with loss:

Let go of guilt. It is common to feel that you could or should have done more for a parent or loved one. It is always easier in retrospect to think of ways you could have spent more time with them. If only you had known what you know now. Be content to recognize that you did all you could with the resources you had at the time. Guilt will overwhelm your fond memories of the time you spent with them.

It's okay to cry. Face it, you are going to feel sad. Feeling the loss on special days is an expected reaction. This is especially painful if this is your first holiday, birthday, Mother's Day without Mom, or Father's Day without Dad. Yet, like with guilt, try not let your emotions overwhelm you. Let in those happy memories and enjoy them.

Surround yourself with others who loved them too. This is a good time to get together with family and friends. Having those around who were a part of their life will increase the feeling that they too are with you. If you can't physically gather, call others who may also be feeling the loss.

Share memories. Look through old family photos to inspire recollections.

Celebrate the day in your own way. Plant flowers at the gravesite or your own home. Light a candle at church. Symbolically share that cup of coffee the two of you enjoyed together. If you're celebrating the day with your family, say a few words about your loved one at dinner or brunch. Bring them into the day with you. Listen to your mother's special song, wear your father's favorite color, or serve one of your loved one's traditional desserts or meals as homage to their memory.

Respect that with life comes changes. We know that death is a part of the life cycle, and life is for the living. You honor your parents, or any loved one best when you enjoy your life and understand that you may have bouts of depression. Don't see that as a failure.

"It's important to know that grief can hit at any time," explained Pancoast, "It can come up many years later and can be triggered by another event such as a death or even a birth in the family."

Hospice support is provided to family members for more than a year after the loss of a loved one. If you are experiencing overwhelming grief, you should reach out for professional intervention.