The year after a loved one has passed is full of firsts – first time without Peter at Easter, at his birthday, on Grey Cup Day, Thanksgiving this list is never ending. These notable dates for the first year can be daunting and full of pregnant silences if we don’t recognize they are coming. If we don’t prepare and plan for them given our loved one will not be there and it will be painfully obvious by the awkwardness in the home.
Christmas and New Year’s Holiday Season is upon us and this season in particular can be very challenging indeed. In this article we are going to discuss what can be done to include the memory of our loved one, involve their spirit and celebrate the Holiday Season at the same time.
It is all about making space for our celebration of the season, the feelings of missing our deceased family member, and planning the days to include their memory in our celebrating.
So let us begin.
The first point I would like to make is that talking about the days, the meals, the presents, and the gatherings that will be happening without our loved one present is really important.
“Well, the best thing to do as far as I can see is to talk about it as a family – to face it head on especially emotionally. Recognize and honor the fact out loud that our loved one won’t be around the tree, table, or celebration in their customary way. There will be an obvious hole or empty place in the festivities and family traditions. Then simply have an open conversation about how to include them and all of the above issues in this your first Christmas without them.” Stephen Garrett, EmbraceYourDeath.com
The second point is to create some ways you and your family can have your loved one’s memory present symbolically. Here are some questions you could use to encourage your creativity;
Will you buy them a gift?
Will you set a place at the table for them?
Will you have their picture on the mantle?
Will you mention their name and speak of past Christmas memories?
Will you put out a stocking for them? Or,
Will you hold their memory in your heart and do none of the above?
Third point is simple – make a plan! Create the day or days to include the activities you and your family spoke about, actually make it happen. Notice as you go through your day if your plan is working and feel free to change it to meet your needs more fully.
Forth point is once the Holiday Season has come and gone take time to review how your celebrations went and revise them for next year. In other words create some rituals or family practices to involve your deceased love ones in your Holiday Celebrations ongoingly.
“Avoid at all cost not talking about your late loved one, this denial will make your holiday celebrations awkward and tight. No matter what ideas you come up with the important thing is to talk about it, be as open as you can as you chat about what to do and how to remember them. Let the emotions flow if they come up, remember sadness and grief are signs of our enduring love for our deceased love. Finding ways to include your deceased loved one in this first Christmas holiday celebration without them will serve their memory and your entire family. It could be the best Christmas present ever.” ” Stephen Garrett, EmbraceYourDeath.com
This year I am taking my Montreal Canadiens ball hat and t-shirt to a Wallace family Christmas Gathering in Vulcan, AB. In honour of my brother Peter I will have my ball cap and my t-shirt on through out the day (my hat will not be on my head during Christmas dinner though 🙂 ). When asked about my attire I will have the opportunity to share a Peter story for Christmas – My way of honoring Peter’s life and death.