Christmas is just around the corner and it is usually a time for family celebrations and gatherings. If this is your first Christmas without a loved one who died earlier this year it can be a confusing, challenging, and emotional time.
What to do?
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.
Yes even having the conversation may bring up emotions and memories and that is perfect, let them come up and allow the emotions to help you create a loving way to have your deceased love one – dad, mom, child, or friend – somehow “be” in the celebration.
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?
Feel free to be creative in answering these sorts of questions and plan your new and “different” Christmas celebration in a way that works for most if not all of the folks in your family. Make sure everyone has a chance to contribute their feelings and their thoughts to the discussion, the more contributions the more magical the results. Sometimes the craziest ideas really do work so give them space too, refrain from dismissing any of them too quickly.
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.