For me, the holidays, Christmas especially, is a time to celebrate family, memories, and love. I shared last year how I found a card from my grandmother who passed away a couple of years earlier. I even have her tree, ornaments, and Christmas dishes.
But for some reason, I am not using those this year … or at least yet.
I am not really sure why …
But when Marcus Beatty, a retired social studies teacher and grandfather of 12 who blogs from his log cabin, shared this post with me, I started to see some possible reasons for my actions …
The loss of a loved one due to illness or a sudden death can leave your family reeling during the holiday season. Even if your family lost a loved one at another time of year, the holidays can stir up feelings of grief and sorrow. It can take up to two years for normal grief to subside, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
During the holidays, it is perfectly acceptable for your family members to experience what the NCI calls grief bursts, or intense but brief periods of sadness. This season, try to focus on helping your family cope with the sadness and move on with life while remembering your loved one who has passed.
Start a New Tradition
After the death of a family member, it can be difficult to keep up the same holiday traditions. For example, if your family regularly went caroling together on Christmas Eve or had your father light the first candle on the Menorah, continuing those traditions can be challenging after his loss. Instead of trying to carry on as though nothing has happened, suggests that your family reevaluate its traditions.
Rather than caroling in the neighborhood, perhaps your family can listen to an old recording or watch a DVD of your family singing together. Listening to the songs when your father or loved one was still alive will help you remember him while creating a new holiday tradition. If you typically held a major holiday meal at your parent’s home but one of them has died this past year, move the meal to a sibling’s or other relative’s home and serve the same menu.
Create a Memorial
Honor the memory of your lost loved one by making a gift in his or her name. If your father died of a particular illness, such as heart disease, diabetes or Parkinson’s disease, donate money to a related charity for medical research, such as the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research or the American Diabetes Association. If you can, send a card with information about your donation to the person in your family who feels the loss most, such as your mom if you lost your father.
You also can give your family or your loved one’s former workplace a gift, such as Christmas gift baskets, to memorialize your lost relative. Choose a basket full of foods your loved one enjoyed, such as a cookie or wine basket.
Help with Day-to-Day Chores
Offer to help your family members with daily tasks or with the errands associated with the holiday season. If your mom usually did the holiday shopping with your dad, suggests going with her to the mall or help her order gifts online. If your sister lost her husband and they usually decorated together, volunteer to help her decorate for the holidays. Don’t wait for your grieving mother or another relative to ask you for help, though. Helpguide recommends taking the reins and offering help without being asked.
Besides chipping in with holiday-focused chores, offer to do run-of-the-mill tasks. For example, if your widowed mom has trouble driving, ask her if she would like some assistance setting up grocery or pharmacy deliveries. Or offer to pick up your sister’s kids from school if she’s busy with work or other errands.
One of these tips goes along with most recent Creative Thinking Prompt …