For many families, the holidays are a time of joy and excitement. It is a time when we come together and enjoy home-cooked dinners, attend parties, and share presents with one another. However, the holidays can also be a time when we remember loved ones and friends who are no longer here to celebrate with us. In the midst of the joy, the holidays can often be a challenging time, bringing up painful feelings of loss within families. When the holidays trigger these renewed feelings of grief, it can actually be an opportunity for families to process the loss and discover new ways to come together as a family.
Although it may seem overwhelming and daunting with the holidays fast approaching, there are many things you and your family can do to honor those that are no longer able to be a part of the season. It can be a time to create new traditions and rituals for your family or add to existing ones. Below I put together a list of three things that you and your family can do this holiday season to honor those you have lost.
Setting a place at the table for the loved one that you have lost can make things seem a bit more normal. It reminds everyone that although they are not physically there, they were and still are an important member of the family that you all wish could be enjoying the meal with you. Setting their place at the table can also be a special way to get younger children involved in the process,
A powerful way to bring some joy and positivity into the mix is to go around the table and have everyone share their favorite memory, joke, saying, etc. of the family member who is no longer here. This allows everyone to acknowledge the loss of this individual’s presence while simultaneously recognizing the positive impact he or she had on the family. Offer a toast in honor of that person and discuss how grateful you are for the time that you did have with them.
Although similar to setting a place at the table, lighting a candle for your loved one is a more subtle, yet very meaningful, way to honor them. Find a candle that will stay lit throughout the festivities so that the symbol of that person’s light and love goes beyond just the dinner table. Ask everyone to remember a happy moment with the person when they look at the candle and share it if they feel comfortable. You can also have everyone write down a memory and fill a basket next to the candle and then read them aloud at the dinner table for everyone to enjoy and reminisce together.
Even with the suggestions above and the effort to keep things joyous, coping with loss over the holidays can be overwhelming and painful. If you or another member of your family would like to talk further about your loss, contact me today or email me. I provide adult, teen, young adult, and couples therapy in Hermosa Beach and the greater South Bay area. I look forward to hearing from you. Happy Holidays!