Unfortunately there are many people that lose loved ones throughout Thanksgiving, Christmas or the New Year, and this only compounds the grief that they feel in their hearts. As the author of this article, I have first hand knowledge of that grief. I lost my mother and my mother in-law six years ago during the holiday season. To this day it was the most tragic event our family has experienced. The grief is so horrible that you feel you will never be able to celebrate again, but you can.
Fortunately the old saying ‘time heals all wounds’ has a hint of truth to it. Although you never truly heal from a loss of a loved one, you do learn how to celebrate their life rather than mourn their death
For the first few years there is a struggle to make sense of rejoicing without the person who has gone. There are triggers that will certainly pull you back into that grief. You tend to go through the motions even when your heart is not really in it. As the years progress memories begin to surface of the happier holidays spent with that loved one. Those same triggers from before will make you smile and reminisce. Sharing these memories is a healthy way of honoring your loved one.
There are two different schools of belief on the stages of grieving. One is a five stage process and one is a seven stage process. But everyone experiences these stages at a different pace, in different orders and with different degrees. Sometimes certain emotions even repeat themselves over and over again.
The 5 Stages – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance (Kubler-Ross Model)
The 7 Stages – Shock, Denial, Guilt, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance
In either case a strong support system will help you to deal with and overcome most of these hurdles that you find yourself up against. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help, rather a path you must go down for your emotional wellbeing. Keeping yourself in good emotional and physical health is key in helping you and your family to move this process along.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ way to feel or act or even remember someone once they are gone and everything has changed, but there is no wrong way to celebrate again. Keeping things at your own pace and enjoying yourself throughout the holiday season will eventually come to be again.