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The holiday season is filled with memories and joy. It's a time for gathering with family and enjoying the season. For widows and widowers, however, it can be a nearly impossible time. The grief that strikes around the holidays can be unbearable, but there are ways to handle this challenge and survive this difficult time.
Accept that it's Going to be Hard
The first step to surviving the first holidays without your loved one is to understand that it's going to be difficult. There will be fresh feelings of grief, and new feelings that are uniquely tied to the holidays. You can expect to feel a little more melancholy, and you should be prepared for the fact that you'll probably shed fresh tears. Simply knowing what's ahead of you can help you prepare for it.
Have a Plan in Place
The holidays are filled with party invitations, family gatherings and special events. Take a moment to sit down and assemble a list of activities you typically did in the past as a couple. Decide which ones you'll continue with this year and which events you'll skip. You probably won't be interested in doing everything, and you certainly won't feel up to attending every event. Making a plan ahead of time will make this period less stressful. Communicate the plan to family and friends ahead of time to avoid surprises.
Join Friends and Family
The hardest times will be on Christmas Eve Christmas Day. You really shouldn't be alone on these days, so make plans to be with friends or family. Let them know that you don't want to be alone during this time. It can also be therapeutic to honor your loved one o these occasions by sharing happy stories and memories with each other. Staying busy and being with people will help you survive this first holiday on your own.
Be Open About What you Need
Your family and friends are going to be looking out for you, but most of them aren't going to know what to do or say. They may try to push you to be more involved and cheer up when you really just want to immerse yourself in the memories and work through it in your own way. People may avoid you because they don't know what to say, but all you need them to do is accompany you to a special event so you won't be alone. When you communicate what you need with others, they'll be more than happy to help you.
Be Ready to do Your Own Thing
This may be a good time to make plans to try something new. While you may want your family to surround you and help you during this time, they may not always be available when you need them. Rather than dropping into depression, make plans to get out of the house and pursue a new hobby that you've been thinking about. Sign up for some classes, and find out when a club you've been considering joining will meet. If you decide you don't feel like going at the last minute, you can always cancel the plans. However, it's important to have these plans in place in case you start feeling depressed and need to get out of the house.
The first December without your loved one is bound to be difficult. Your family and friends are prepared to help you, but they need to know specifically what you need. Communicate openly with them about what you need during this time. However, it's also wise to have some plans to go out and do things on your own. These are ideal for getting out of the house when you start feeling too melancholy. Finally, accept the fact that you're going to feel a little more blue. The tears may well up more often, and the flood of fresh memories may be difficult to get through. However, you can get through this time by moving forward one step, one moment and one day at a time.
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