Change and the Holidays
With the loss of our spouse come changes too numerous to count: outings with friends, meals, signing our name, sleeping and just about every activity in our lives causes us to pause and think about how it used to be.
With the holidays, whether it’s the first or the twentieth year without our spouse, there always seems to be pause. For me the holidays bring feelings of wanting to escape, to skip all the gatherings and traditions. With no small children around it was easier in the early years to ignore traditions. But over the years I have learned to create new traditions and even incorporate old ones. Some I have let go all together and that’s ok.
Planning ahead and preparing ourselves for the emotional ambushes that can surprise us during this season can be very helpful. I have learned over these years of grief if I plan ahead, create an exit plan for events, and practice responses ahead of time to advice and questions from well-meaning friends and family, I avoid being caught off guard.
I have gathered some tips that I hope will help us maneuver through the holidays and lessen the stress and pain that often times sneaks up on us.
- Anticipate some emotion when signing Christmas cards and setting the table. Even though we know this could be hard, we may still be surprised. Expect emotions and lessen the surprise.
- Think ahead about traditions. Which ones will be the hardest? What are some new ones to incorporate?
- Identify which holiday activities you have the energy and desire to do. Prioritize the top two which are most important. Be flexible with your plan.
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