When a loved one is missing from your table, the holidays can be a particularly challenging time of year. However, there are simple strategies you can use to bring their memory to life, honor your emotions and make things a little easier throughout the holiday season. Here are just a few.

Give Yourself Grace

It is common to want to be more productive than grief allows or to wish the grieving process would move faster so that it does not impact you during this time. But there is no timeline for grief. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself the space to work through your feelings as you need to. There is no reason to rush or feel like you have to accomplish tasks at a pace you normally would. Take it slow, and don’t push yourself too hard to complete everything on your list.

Start A New Tradition

Something that can be really soothing is to keep the memory of that person present throughout the holidays. This is important because while you may instinctively try to push the grief down, it can often be more comforting to make their memory more tangible. For example, consider adding a new tradition that honors the memory of your loved one. Here are a few ideas…

Recipes: What was your loved one’s favorite meal or side dish? You can honor them by bringing their favorite dish into the holiday celebration. Consider renaming the dish to something with their name in it, such as “Grandma’s Favorite Stuffing” or “Ruthie’s Sweet Potato Pie.”

Memory Jars: Another great way to keep your loved one’s memory alive through the season is to pull out an old mason jar and some markers and invite your family and friends to write down their favorite memories about the person who has passed. You have the option to add to it each year or start a new one. You could also have everyone write memories on a table cloth or write them down on a piece of paper and pop them on the tree. Do whatever feels right for you.

Gifts and Giving

Incorporating the memory of the person who passed away into gifts and giving is another great way to keep their memory alive this holiday season.

Giving: You could donate to a charitable cause in their name each year. Something that they were really passionate about.

Keepsakes: You could also design your own keepsakes. Websites like Etsy, for example, allow you to turn recipes or hand-written notes into beautiful pieces of art. From jewelry to plates with recipes inscribed on the back, these are unique ways to create and give from their memory, something that can be cathartic for both you and the recipient.

Take Time for Self Care

Make sure to take care of you with some simple self-care practices that can help support you during this time.

Physical Self Care: As things get busy and the to-do list gets longer, the first thing to drop off is usually taking care of your physical body. Nourishing yourself with regular movement, regular meals and, if possible, something physically soothing like a massage or pedicure can help ease your emotions and give you some comfort when things feel tough.

Emotional Self Care: Emotional self-care is just as important as physical self-care. You will likely be in the company of those who love you this holiday, so make sure to vocalize what you need and take a break from festivities when you feel it would be beneficial. Although it can be difficult to talk through your emotions, choosing someone to confide in can make all the difference. If it can’t be a family member or a friend, calling a professional counselor for extra support could be beneficial.

When you cannot have the people you love the most physically with you during the holidays, just remember that it’s normal to grieve for them. The process of grief is fluid and comes in stages, but can be felt more acutely during holidays. So, make sure to give yourself some grace, start new traditions and take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Combined, these should help make the holidays a little easier.

As always, the Ryan Funeral Home team is here for you. If you have any questions or are in need of support, reach out to us here.