The Holidays and Family Traditions

Posted on

Jan 25, 2010


New Jersey - Essex, Hudson & Union Counties

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As the year begins to draw to a close we are surrounded by Holidays. The stores are filled with Halloween candy in August, Thanksgiving decorations in September and October is already filled with Christmas.

Whatever your familys religious beliefs are everyone has traditions such as gatherings and events which are unique and special. You may find yourself wondering how you will get through this time with one less sitting at the table. Here are strategies you can use to help you cope:
1) Stay connected to your feelings - Give yourself time and permission to feel and express your emotions in the manner that works best for YOU (e.g., writing, sharing with someone close, meditating). Everyone has their own style.

2) Focus on what is helpful for you and your family in the present - Old traditions may be too painful, especially in this first year. It may be easier to break with tradition and celebrate the holidays differently (e.g., if you always spend the holidays at your home, spend them at someone elses home).

3) Create new traditions - By incorporating memories of your loved one into your holiday celebrations, you develop ways to honor their memory (e.g., have a poem or prayer read in your loved ones honor, create a memory quilt or light a candle).

4) Do not feel guilty about how you feel - It is OKAY if you find some joy this holiday season. If you find no joy, this is also OK. Dont try to live up to others expectations of how you should feel. Grief is very individualized and can even vary with different losses. Instead of carrying expectations of how you SHOULD FEEL, accept the reality of how you DO FEEL. It is normal to have mixed emotions during the bereavement process and this is especially so during the holidays.
5) Find ways of giving to others - When you are feeling sad and empty inside, it can be helpful to reach out to others. Some families volunteer in soup kitchens, create a memorial fund in memory of their loved one, or raise money that helps others etc.

6) Avoid overindulgence with alcohol and food - There is an increased risk for eating and drinking too much during periods of bereavement and this is especially so during the holiday season. Eating and drinking too much are often ways of avoiding or masking underlying emotions so that they do not have to be felt. This is not a solution and only serves to prolong the intense feelings associated with your loss.

7) Explore the traditions of your faith concerning mourning and remembering - Even if you have not been involved in your faith, you may find comfort and support in these traditions.

8) Be honest with yourself, don't be afraid to seek professional help - If you find yourself immobilized by your grief, feeling overwhelmed by emotions, or have other adverse experiences or behaviors, PLEASE seek professional help or call 1-866-821-1212 and ask to speak with a member of the Care Alternatives Bereavement Team.

Editors Note: This article was submitted by Care Alternatives. They can be reached at 866-821-1212 or you can visit their website at

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