We can’t help but notice that the signs of the holiday season are upon us. WE turn on the TV and see food commercials for Thanksgiving dinner, holiday decorations are springing up in stores and in people’s homes, and conversations among people turn to discussions about holiday plans. Another sign that the holidays are coming, which is not as often spoken about, is the increased apprehension that those grieving the loss of a loved one feel as they face the holidays missing their loved one. This year these feelings are compounded by the stress of trying to acknowledge the holidays in the midst of the pandemic.

Those of us at Emma’s Place want you to know that we are here to support you throughout the holiday season. While we know that grief is a personal journey and everyone deals with grief in their own way at their own pace, we want to offer some coping strategies that may be helpful to you as we approach the holidays. As you read the information below, try to incorporate the strategies that resonate with you, but pass on those that you feel don’t apply:

• Remember you are the best judge of your feelings. Well-meaning people may offer advice and tell you things such as, you’d feel better if you participate in our Zoom recipe exchange, or it will make you happy when you start buying some holiday gifts. You have a right to your own feelings and any way you are feeling is OK. If you prefer to have a quiet night on your own, honor yourself and don’t let others talk you into things that aren’t right for you.

• While COVID19 social distancing rules and restrictions on getting together during the upcoming holidays has made it harder on bereaved individuals, it is possible to take what we learned about maintaining relationships during the pandemic and see if we can apply that concept with remaining connected to our loved one who died.

▪ During the pandemic we have found creative ways to maintain connected with loved ones, even if we can’t physically be with them.

▪ This concept can also be applied to maintaining a connection and relationship with our loved one who died. We can still have conversations with them, write letters to them, create memory boxes, or other memorial rituals that help us maintain connected with them. Think about a way that can be meaningful to you to stay connected with your loved one.

• If you have children who are grieving too, it is important to have a space where you can share about your feelings openly. Children can sense the truth, and it is harder on them for you to pretend you are happy thinking that will help them, rather than explaining how you feel in age appropriate ways. It may also be helpful to incorporate your children in your holiday plans. For example, you can say, “I’m feeling sad that Dad is not here this Thanksgiving, and I’m interested in hearing how you’re feeling?” Or, “I miss Grandma and was wondering if you would you like to help me think of a way to help honor her during the holiday?”

• Give yourself the gift of self-care: Do things that nurture yourself such as doing creative projects, taking a relaxing bath, and eating nourishing food.