In Remembrance Of Our Loved Ones This Holiday Season

By: Leslie Holley
Monday, December 12, 2022

During the holidays, those grieving sometimes feel like they are in a time machine, feeling their emotions of loss as deeply as when it occurred. 

Grief affects everyone differently, but one thing is for certain when it hits, it can feel overwhelming and take unexplained twists and turns.  Through the grieving process, a person changes with every memory and every cry, and sometimes isolation and depression can set in.  But, over time, the sun comes back out, and life goes on, with a part of the person’s world missing. 

Sometimes it can take a person off guard, unprepared for the range of emotions they may feel over the holidays. This is a time of remembrance. Many of us remember the ones we love most and spend time with our grandparents, mothers, fathers, and siblings.  Maybe certain songs, food, or smells bring those memories back.  These memories can make us smile. However, for those of us who have lost a loved one, the impact of the holidays can leave feelings of emptiness, anger, loneliness, and uncontrollable crying, amongst other grief symptoms. 

As we prepare for the holiday season if you are grieving, here are five things to keep in mind:

1. Set boundaries

Don’t hesitate to say no.  Forcing yourself to attend every holiday event can be tiring for most of us. If you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, listen to your inner self.  If socializing is too painful, just say no.  It’s important to set realistic expectations for yourself. It's okay if this year is different and others’ expectations of you have to shift.  While grieving, it is natural for someone to feel fatigued, which can slow a person down, especially during the holidays. 

2. Grief is different for us all - it ebbs and flows. 

I always tell my clients that it is natural to feel an array of emotions throughout the day.  When someone is grieving, these emotions can intensify.  One minute, you feel like you can manage your everyday responsibilities, the next, you feel like crawling into bed and closing the shades.  This is natural. This is grief.  Because someone who is grieving can feel intense ebbs and flows of emotions, preparing is important.  Don’t commit to things too early and allow wiggle room to relax, reschedule, and leave holiday events early.  Take naps during the day, when needed, and extra time off work.

3. Honor Old Traditions

For some of us, when we lose a loved one, hanging on to their rituals and routines helps us find clarity and meaning. It's a way someone can feel connected to their loved one. Family and friends may think that it's time to move on and leave the past in the past.  However, re-experiencing your loved one through rituals is a great way to honor a passed loved one. Remember, grief looks different for everyone. 

4. Make New Traditions 

For some, honoring old traditions is just too painful. Be sure to discuss with your family activities to help make new memories. These traditions can incorporate past memories of your loved one and create new feelings around honoring them during the holidays. Some examples are:

  • Create a holiday toast or moment of silence to honor your loved one. 
  • Plan your lost loved one's favorite meals during the holidays. 
  • Light candles to honor your loved one or put out fresh flowers in memory of your loved one. 
  • Create a box of photos of your loved one. The box can also include drawings and safekeeping that remind you of your loved one.  Ask those closest to the loved one to contribute something.
  • Place a memorable ornament on the Christmas tree or play your loved one’s favorite music while putting up holiday decorations

5. Allow Yourself To Feel

Make sure you allow some time for self-care so you can create space for an array of feelings. Self-care can include:

  • Take a nap or hot bath
  • Schedule a massage
  • Journal to express your thoughts and feelings 
  • Make your favorite meal and lots of water 
  • Schedule time to see a grief counseling or join a grief group

Grief ebbs and flows. It hurts.  Hiding or masking it only makes it worse.  Don’t try to be someone you’re not. You don’t have to be someone else for others. The holiday time is a special time for each of us to get back to ourselves, and connect with our loved ones near and far, alive and passed on, in our own way. This holiday season may not be merry but remember, every day you’re taking steps toward what you need this holiday season to heal. 

Funeral providers are called upon to comfort the grief-stricken, offering compassionate care, helpful resources, and access to qualified professionals amid times of great suffering. To that end, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services now offers grief counseling and other mental health services to the greater Baltimore community in collaboration with Leslie Holley, a celebrated, nationally-certified Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.

Our “Healing Hearts Program” includes regular social media posts, monthly blog articles, and quarterly workshops. All are provided to help our community learn about the grief cycle and how to move through the grieving process in a healthy way.

These services are offered at no additional charge as part of the continuity of care represented in every package provided by Vaughn Greene Funeral Services.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, repast, and grief counseling services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

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