Navigating the Holidays When You Don’t Feel Like Celebrating

AFTR Admin
December 17, 2020
Navigating the Holidays When You Don’t Feel Like Celebrating

The “most wonderful time of the year” tends to feel very far from that when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one. The celebratory mindset that navigates most people’s day-to-day during this season may feel materialistic, useless, or even wrong to someone who is grieving. While family and friends may have been an appropriate and useful distraction in the past, if you are social distancing due to covid, this holiday season will probably feel more lonely than ever. During times like these, it’s important to prioritize your own mental health and wellbeing over that of others. Spend the day with the people who you want to be with, not the people who want to be with you. 

“Normal” holiday traditions have been sacrificed this year, and I think that this sudden flexibility highlights that there isn’t one “correct” way to enjoy this season. Just as we can change the way we celebrate a holiday for a pandemic, we can change the way we celebrate when we’re missing someone who is no longer here. The following are some ways to make it feel as though you’re “including” your loved one in the holiday festivities: 

Create a new tradition in honor of your loved one, and if you wish to share, tell people who it’s for, and why you’re doing that specific thing. 

Purchase a gift that you know they would like, and donate it to a charity that they (would) align with. 

When decorating the house, blast their favorite holiday music. If your loved one disliked holiday music, blast the playlist that made them dance and sing along. 

Visit their resting place on the holiday, and bring them their favorite flowers. Spend some time there to let them know that you’re thinking of them. 

Leave a seat for them at your table, and make sure to cook their favorite dish(es). If your loved one was known to bring a specific dish to the holiday meal, try your best to replicate it, and name it after them. Light a candle for them, and go around the table, having everyone share their favorite memory of this special individual. 

If there is a specific tradition that means something to you, that you really need to do, find a way to do it. Despite the distance and the difficulty of physically connecting with others, there are so many socially distanced ways to do things. Facetime with your grandma so that the two of you can make her famous apple pie together. Go outside a loved one’s home and have a DMC through the window separation. Order baked goods or treats for nieces, nephews, or grandchildren from a local small business. Set up a graveside camera with AFTR so that you can virtually visit your loved one who is buried too far away to drive to. Most importantly, remember that it’s okay to skip the holiday altogether, and spend the day practicing self-care. Take a bubble bath, put on a facemask, walk and/or jump in the snow, drink (spiked) hot chocolate, watch some Netflix under several blankets.