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It seems almost impossible that the holidays are here already.

It is a time loved by many, but the holidays can mean a heightened sense of pain, loneliness, fear, anger, and hopelessness for those who are experiencing grief. Everyone celebrates the holidays differently – and some might not celebrate them at all.

The holidays may never be as easy to celebrate after a death loss – but we have put together a few tips to help you cope around the holidays in the hopes of helping you navigate the season with a little more ease.

    1. Acknowledge that the holidays will be different and that they will be tough.

    2. Plan and communicate with the people you spend the holiday with in advance to ensure everyone agrees about traditions and plans.

    3. Remember that the way others will want to spend the holiday may not match how you want to spend the holiday.

    4. Create a new tradition in memory of your loved one.

    5. Don’t be afraid to skip holiday events if you are on holiday overload.

    6. Make a dish that your loved one used to make. Don’t get discouraged if you try to make the dish and you fail.

    7. Skip or minimize gifts. After a death loss, material things can seem less meaningful, and the mall can seem incredibly stressful. Talk as a family and decide whether you truly want to exchange gifts this year.

    8. Volunteer in your loved one’s memory.

    9. Ask for help. If people aren’t offering, ask. Asking can be super-hard if it isn’t your style, but it is essential. Asking others to help with cooking, shopping, or decorating can be a significant relief.

    10. Prioritize and don’t overcommit. Holidays tend to be filled with so many parties, dinners, and events. Save your energy for those that are most important. Look at everything you have to do and rank them in order of importance. Plan for the most important and skip the rest. Ignore people who want to tell you what you “should” do for the holiday. 

    11. Listen to yourself, trust yourself, communicate with your family, and do what works for you.

    12. Remember, it is okay to be happy – this doesn’t diminish how much you love and miss the person who isn’t there this holiday. Don’t feel guilty for the joy you do find this holiday season.

Even if you only choose 1 or 2 tips this season, it might have a much more significant impact than you might anticipate. Little steps lead to big progress. Take as many of them as you need.

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