Making Space for Grief During the Holidays
This has been a trying year for all of us as the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed all our lives. Many of us will never be the same again because of the pain and grief of losing a loved one to this terrible virus. Here is a moving message I got:
"When I first started hearing about the Coronavirus, it was hard to imagine it affecting me or my family. It was just something we heard about on the news that was filling our lives with fear and making things more complicated. Then I lost my grandmother to COVID-19, and I was unable to see her before she died. I've been devastated ever since. Christmas was her favorite holiday, and I know it can't be the same without her. But it just feels like there's this massive hole in my life, and I don't know what to do. Is there anything I can do that will make the holidays a little more bearable without her?"
My heart goes out to this young woman, and to you. If you've lost a friend or family member to Coronavirus, you're now facing a harsh reality. Your loved one was irreplaceable, but you have to go on without them during a time you would normally have been together. Here are some suggestions for how to remember your loved one this Christmas.
Make Time to Remember Them
For many who are grieving, setting aside time dedicated to remembering their loved one helps them feel more connected to them, and gives us time and space to express our feelings. Here are some things you might do:
- Look through old and recent photographs of your loved one.
- Set aside time each day to light a candle for them in a space you are together, or near something that reminds you of them.
- Spend a few minutes in silence each day thinking about your loved one.
- Journal about them each morning or evening.
- Talk about them with other people.
These small rituals are a way to affirm their importance in your life, to demonstrate how you are remembering them, and to make them a part of your holiday season, even though they can no longer be physically present.
Participate in Traditions They Enjoyed
Are there any traditions your loved one or friend especially enjoyed that you could make a part of your Christmas celebrations from now on?
Try adding one of their favorite traditions, songs, rituals, or recipes to your observance this year. When you do the things they loved to do, it may bring you comfort and help you feel more connected to them.
Don't Rush or Force Your Feelings
I know it's tempting to want to make Christmas feel happy, even without your loved one there, because that's how it's "supposed to be" or because it will "make it easier". But the truth is, grieving is unpredictable, and processing feelings of loss takes time.
Sometimes, grief will come at times you expect, other times it will seem to pop up out of nowhere. Don't judge those feelings, stuff them down, or try to rush into another activity to feel better. It is O.K. to sit in your feelings for a bit and acknowledge them.
Take time to feel the sadness, anger, and pain of losing someone so dear to you. Take the time to enjoy the gratitude you have for the time you shared. Take time for the hope and joy of remembering what you love about them or doing things to make them proud.
You can talk about these feelings with someone else who loved them as well. If you're not sure how to put your feelings into words, you can write about them in a journal, and share them with a close friend or family member when you feel ready to open up.
Being aware of our feelings can make them easier to manage, and it can help us find our way to greater healing when we talk about our grief and pain.
When my grief is really intense, I always turn to God in prayer. He can handle even my most difficult emotions, and there is nothing I can't share with Him as I struggle to find hope and meaning in life after a difficult loss. I hope it helps you to know that, no matter what you feel in your grief, you can express it to God. He loves you unconditionally, and He will comfort you in unexpected ways during the most trying seasons of grief.
Remember Them With Others They Were Close To
Reach out to those who also loved them and let them know you are thinking of them as they grieve as well. Share a video call around the Christmas holidays and reminisce about your loved one.
As you talk, ask one another questions, or share favorite memories, about the loved one you had in common. You'll be surprised what you learn about them, and how connected you'll feel to other friends and family. That sense of connection will be helpful in easing the sense of isolation that often comes with grieving, especially if COVID safety guidelines prevent you from being together in person during the holiday season.
Express Your Feelings Artistically
If you like to create art or do crafting projects, you can remember your loved one this Christmas with a personal creation. You could do things like:
- Writing a Poem or Story About Them
- Drawing or Painting Their Portrait
- Decorating a Frame for a Photo of the Two of You
- Making a Memory Quilt or Memory Bear from Clothing of Theirs
- Creating an Ornament to Remember Them
Creating art can be therapeutic since it gives you time alone to think about your friend or family member. Making artwork is a healthy way to both express the sadness of your grief and remember the good times you shared with the loved one you lost.
Seek Grief Support
There's no way around it. Grieving during the holidays is always painful. And grieving a loss to COVID-19 will affect you in ways you may not have experienced before. Sometimes, no matter what you do, grief seems overwhelming. And that's normal.
After all, when we experience great love for someone, our grief for them is great, too. Please know that you are not alone in your grief this holiday season, and you have found a safe place to express these challenging feelings. Our HopeCoaches are trained to offer mentoring and grief support, and to point you toward additional resources that will help you safely understand and work through your grief.
Talk to a HopeCoach today via chat or email. Share with them what you will miss about your loved one, how losing them has made you feel, and how you hope to feel their presence this holiday season. We mourn your loss with you. We are here to listen, help, and offer hope this holiday season however we can.
We also have a partner, GriefShare, who is a caring support group of people who will walk alongside you through one of life’s most difficult experiences.