Memories of holiday traditions once shared with a loved one who has died can be painful, but there are ways to look after ourselves and loved ones who may be grieving.
Stephannie Rosencrans, adult bereavement coordinator at Langley Hospice Society, has some tips to help people through the season.
“Without a doubt, the holidays can be especially challenging for individuals and families who are grieving the recent death of a loved one,” she noted.
“As we move into the holiday season, we often hear ‘what should I do about Christmas?’ The answer is whatever feels right to you.”
Rosencrans suggested checking in with yourself and how you’re feeling, and acknowledge what you may or may not be able to handle this year.
Communication will be the key, she noted, and said it’s important to let others know what you need.
“Maybe that means saying no to the neighbourhood get-together or asking someone else in your family to host Christmas dinner. it could be that you choose to incorporate a new tradition to honour your loved one, or skip an annual outing to stay safe and comfortable at home,” Rosencrans explained.
She adds that keeping communication open and adjusting your own expectations can help how you navigate the holiday season.
Another suggestion is to make time for self-care, whether that’s a massage, a jog, five minutes of silence to drink a cup of tea, or a soak in the tub.
“At the heart of self-care is restoration, and if we want to give to others we need a full cup to pour from,” Rosencrans said.
“Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself time to rest. Set realistic goals and allow yourself to cancel plans if you need to.”
She also suggested turning to others for support.
“Don’t be afraid to let others know how they can help. Utilize those who have been supportive.”
Lastly, Rosencrans said over time special occasions can help us begin to heal.
“Try to stay present in the moment, and accept the warmth that is yours to receive.”
People can access bereavement support through their local hospice society, which can be found online at bchpca.org.