By Tracy & Cindy Mattice

Wickenburg Funeral Home & Crematory

Contrary to popular belief and advertisers, the holidays are not always a time everyone looks forward to.  If you have lost someone you love through death, this holiday season may be truly dreaded.  You may wish you could just hibernate until January or maybe even spring.

Even though no one can take away your pain or emotional struggle, there are some things you can do that may make the holidays less stressful and more enjoyable.  One of the most difficult aspects of a traumatic change in our lives is the feeling of a loss of control which leads us to a feeling of instability and insecurity.  By implementing some of the following, you may begin to regain control and take some very positive steps toward your loss recovery.

1.  Have a plan - Try to avoid being an ostrich and don’t let the holidays ambush you.  Divide tasks into essential and nonessential.  Shop by catalog or internet or when the stores are not so crowded.  Change your routine or location.  Maybe start a new tradition.  And consult with your immediate family members so all are given consideration.  Re-examine your priorities: greeting cards, holiday baking, decorating, and family dinners.  Do I really enjoy this?  Or is this a task that can be shared.

2.  Let your needs be known – If you need help preparing a meal, ask. If you have some bittersweet times and need a shoulder to lean on, ask. If you want to talk about your loved one or the difficulty of the holiday, ask.  Family and friends would be happy to help, but they are not mind readers.  Many of us feel too independent or too proud to ask for help only to realize that so many are willing and able in our time of need.

3.  Develop one or more coping techniques – There will be rough times and days. Decide ahead of time on what your stress reducer will be … a hot bath, a long walk, deep breathing exercises, or just calling a friend.

4.  Watch your own physical health – Make sure to get plenty of rest and eat right.  Overdoing, or trying to work your grief away is often a reaction to grief, which can lead to total physical exhaustion if carried to an extreme.  You have enough to deal with already, so be kind to yourself and those who interact with you.

5.  Resolve to use your learning and experience to help someone else – Although you may have been through the most difficult time of your life, you have also grown in compassion and understanding for others.  By using that knowledge to help someone else, you may give meaning to your personal loss.  As it has been said, “We all need someone to do for, rather than someone to do for us.”  Service to others can be a very rewarding and healing experience.

6.  Recognize and remember your loved one with your family - You might light a memorial candle or hang a special stocking for your loved one in which family and friends can leave a special written note or memory. Listen to music that your loved one liked.  Remember the good times you shared.

7.  Don’t be afraid to have fun - There is no right or wrong way to handle the holidays. Once you have decided how you will do this let your family and others know.  Laughter and fun are not disrespectful, allow yourself and family members permission to celebrate and take pleasure in the holidays.

May you have a Merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you strive to heal and move on with your life.

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