Coping With the Holidays
Suggestions by Bill Behrens 

You now face the holidays and someone you love has passed away. The following suggestions may help you cope.

Change Traditions
- Have holiday meals and get-togethers at a different house or a different time this year. The more you try to make it the same as it was before, the more obvious our loved one's absence will be.

Go Away - If you feel you will be devastated by staying home go away. But remember, that Christmas is celebrated the world over, so you can't fully escape. You will probably do better by facing your pain and being near the people who love you.

Balance Solitude With Sociability - Solitude can renew strength. Being with people you care about is equally important. Plan to attend some holiday parties, musicals or plays. You may surprise yourself by enjoying them.

Relive the Happy Memories
- Pick three special memories of holidays past with your loved One. 

Think of the happy memories often - especially if grief spasms seem to pop-up at an inappropriate time.

Set Aside "Letting Go" Time - Set aside on your calendar special times during the holiday season when you can be alone and grieve. When you know you will have these special times, you can more easily postpone your flow of grief in public.

Counter the Conspiracy of Silence - Because family and friends love you, the will think they are doing you a favor by not mentioning your loved one (so you won't get upset). Break the ice by mentioning your loved one. Openly state that it is important for you to talk about your loved one during the holiday season when he/she is so much on your mind.

Try Not to "Awful-ize" - It is tempting to conclude that life is "awful" during the holidays. Yes, you will have some difficult times - but you can also experience some joy. Experiencing joy in giving and receiving does not mean that you have forgotten your loved one or that you loved him or her any less.

Find a Creative Outlet - Write a memorial poem or story about your loved one and share it. Contribute to a group your loved one would have supported. Use the money you would have spent on a gift for your loved one and buy something for someone he or she cared about.

Don't Forget the Rest of Your Family - Especially try to make it a good holiday for the children. Listen to them. Talk to them. Celebrate them. If decorating the tree or buying gifts is impossible, ask a friend to do it for you this year.

Take Charge - Plan ahead how you will handle issues such as, whether to hang you loved one's holiday stocking, whether or not to attend religious services and who you will depend on for support.

You can't change the past. You can, however, take charge of the Present. Total recovery may never come, but what you kindle from the ashes of your tragedy is largely up to you