Getting Through the Holidays After Losing a Loved One

Getting Through the Holidays

I grew up loving the holidays, as most kids do. My family loved christmas and I always looked forward to decorating our house, baking cookies, and going to see the christmas lights in downtown Austin. I know christmas was always my moms favorite time of year. She loved ugly christmas sweaters, decorating the tree and getting to watch us open presents.

This year will be the third year we spend without my mom and the first we spend without my grandpa. It’s honestly depressing to see my family shrink and during the holidays is always when it hits the hardest. I love big family holidays, something about them just make those days so cheery and full of life. It’s been difficult adjusting to holidays without these important people in my family. The first year after my mom passed, christmas was the hardest. I know my entire family wasn’t quite sure how to have christmas without her, I mean she was the light of the party. But we did. We had christmas without her, and while there might have been a somber air going into the day, once we were together we were all able to enjoy each other. I remember actually kind of dreading christmas because I didn’t want to celebrate without my mom being there in her christmas sweater and matching ornament earnings. I also remember being so relieved when I left my grandmas house after the celebrations, because it wasn’t a sad christmas, it was a really happy christmas. I got to be with my family and thats ultimately what matters. I know my mom was watching down and enjoying the day with us. The second year we were missing her and my grandpa, which was again hard to see another person taken from our family. And again I went into the holiday season feeling sad, but left it feeling better. It’s weird how your mind really messes with you; it makes you think somethings going to be worse than it actually ends up being. For that i’m so thankful.

me and my mom both dressed in red, so i’m assuming this was around christmas

I know first hand how hard it is to have holidays without your loved ones, so whether your loved ones have passed or can’t be there with you during the holidays for another reason, I hope you can find some happiness to focus on this year. I know how hard it is to see everybody else so happy about the holidays, and you want to be happy as well, but there’s always that somber thought in the back of your mind. What I try to do is whenever I get sad about the fact that I’m missing my mom and my grandpa, I think of the memories we had together then I think about the family I still have here. I think about how lucky I am to have all those memories with them, and I think about all of the memories I can make with the family I still have. If you’re reading this and haven’t lost any members of your family, then PLEASE cherish them. Cherish every holiday, take all the pictures, and please don’t take your family or the time you can spend with them for granted.

I would love to say that i’m fulling looking forward to christmas this year, but there is still that somber feeling deep down in my gut. That somber feeling that just wants my mom to come back so we can celebrate christmas together one last time. I know I will have that urge every year, to wish that she could come back. But I also know that with time years will get easier.

with my niece and nephew during our early christmas celebrations this year

Each year I plan to fully enjoy the holidays with my family to the best of my ability. I hope you can do the same. I know how hard it is to get through the holidays after losing a loved one, which is why I’m deciding to publish this post. I know there are a lot of others out there who like me, struggle with the holidays. Not because they’re not festive, but because they are missing apart of themselves with their loved ones who passed. I know I didn’t give many tips in this post about how to get through the holidays (because i’m still figuring this out) but I hope that if you have lost a loved one, just knowing you’re not alone will help.

Edit: Alright so I originally wrote this article before school ended, but was waiting to post it until now (not sure why, just wasn’t ready) and I’m ready to add a tip in.

Tip: Spend as much time doing what you love and with your family as possible.

Baking fudgenutless bars with my grandma for the first time
We got to do yoga with baby goats and it made me SO HAPPY

So far this christmas break (it’s been about two weeks) I’ve got to spend lots of time with my loved ones (i.e. wiley, rocky, friends, and family). One of my goals for break was to do things that make me happy (i.e. spending time outside, cooking, and GOAT YOGA) and spend at least one day per week with a family member. I have totally exceeded that one day/week goal and have spent multiple days/week with a family member. It has really helped curb any sadness by doing things that make me happy and spending time with my family.  I’m happy to say that this break has actually gone really well and I already got to enjoy one early christmas celebration with only a few short thoughts of sadness.

If you need any support during this time of year, please reach out! I would be happy to talk to anyone that’s dealing with this as well.

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

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