Christmas without You

Christmas without You

This year, the person who was so dear to your heart will not be with you to celebrate the holiday season. But, you’re probably not in a mood to celebrate. It’s normal to dread this time, according to our counselors, who accompanies families in our Signature department: “The holiday season definitely stirs painful emotions, especially if work was keeping our mind busy. Perhaps you might want to respect certain traditions as a way to remember the deceased or you might instead wish to get rid of these rituals to give an entirely new meaning to this season.” What’s for sure, it will not be the same. Here are some suggestions that should hopefully help you through this time.

Sharing your Sorrow… and Taking Care of Yourself

Each person has a way to handle grief. Do not expect too much from yourself and be kind to yourself. If you need rest, sleep, relax, or watch movies. If you need to express your sorrow, go ahead and do it. Write down your feelings in a journal or on the internet, scream in your pillow or in the shower, go out and run…

Even if it is demanding, physical activities do help. Put on your skates, skis, or walking boots and get out. Fresh air is great. To calm down, yoga or meditation often helps. Check out Passeport Santé for guided meditations you can download.

Magnus Poirier invites you to visit the website of Maison Monbourquette: telephone support, private or group meetings. Do not hesitate to take advantage of this support.

Connecting with the Spirit of the Deceased

You might wish to surround yourself in memories, whether in photo albums or through music the person used to love. If it feels good, do it. Pay a visit to the tombstone or the columbarium.

If you don’t feel like going out, dedicate a space to their memory at home, somewhat like the ancestors’ altar Vietnamese create. For example, place some candles in a corner, photos of past Christmas days spent together and objects that remind you of this person you loved so much. If the sound of water soothes you, get a feng shui fountain. Burn incense to enjoy a scent that brings back pleasant memories: her perfume, the apple pie she used to bake, roses from her garden, etc.

You could also create a blog in her memory and give the address to people close to the deceased who might want to share anecdotes. Another idea: get together as a family to create something that you can set on her tombstone or that you can take turns keeping in each home; it could be a photo display, artwork or a quilt made up of clothing that used to belong to the deceased.

On December 31st, raise your glass and share a toast for the deceased, to thank her for what she brought to your life. Ask her to accompany you throughout the New Year.

Perpetuate a Holiday Ritual

Remember Holiday traditions that were special: watching movies together, getting the Christmas tree and decorating it, the father’s blessing, making pies or a gingerbread house, singing hymns during the Christmas Eve service, etc.

Heart-warming rituals are worth keeping: take over at the oven and use her recipes. Life must go on, and deciding that you will pass on what you have learned from her can feel good. It’s a way to keep this person alive in your heart, to honour and respect her work.

You can also give wings to the love you were sharing by deciding that you will be there for other people. For example, there are children who need the tender loving care of a big brother, sister or grand-mother, or elderly people who could use some help to clear the snow in front of their home. To fill the empty seat at the table, why not invite a foreign university student to share your Christmas supper to discover our local customs.

Another idea: organise a fundraising Christmas dinner for a cause the deceased used to support or to help fund research for cancer, mental illnesses or heart problems.

Reinventing the Whole Thing

If Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus-Christ, we could consider that it is some kind of rebirth. Some people might prefer to forget about past Christmas rituals and to celebrate in a different way: going to a hotel, a restaurant or a sunny destination. Other people might want to stay in their pyjama to do nothing or keep busy doing some volunteer work.

Accept this as a transition period and explain it to people around you. Next year will be soon enough to adopt new traditions.

Do not despair. In a few weeks or months, it will get easier. Try to enjoy some moments with those dear ones who are still alive and treasure these relationships.

Thinking of You

If you wish to support someone you love who is grieving during this holiday season, send them a card to say that you are available if they wish to talk. Send flowers or a gift to bring them some comfort.

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