The holidays are drawing closer…the dreaded feeling of the holidays. Does it really have to feel like this? I don’t think so. Will it be difficult? Of course it probably will, especially the first of the holidays and special events/days. You can and will get through it. My personal feeling is to prepare for it…really prepare for it. I am a true believer in visualization. Many people don’t believe in this “hog-wash,” but I believe more and more people are seeing it really works. So, what do we need to do…
First of all, you need to realize that it is OKAY for you to enjoy the holidays and yes, actually laugh. You do not have to feel guilty for being alive for the holidays. Would your loved one want you to sit and be upset all day? I really don’t think so; and, I don’t think you believe that deep down, either. You do not have to feel guilty for enjoying yourself.
Second, prepare to be around family and/or friends and things they may say. Some people tend to over-try to make you feel better, which doesn’t always work. Sometimes you end up trying to comfort them instead. However, you do need to prepare for what people may say, how you may feel and what you may really feel like doing instead. One way I have found to really help is to visualize the day. Sit comfortably in a chair or lie down. Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths. Think about that day. Picture what you are wearing, what smells you smell, who is there, smells of a Christmas tree, cookies, food, candles, etc. Hear the holiday music playing quietly in the background, any grandchildren laughing and playing in the background; or, crying and screaming…. Get as detailed as you can. Actually hear conversations going on around you and/or in the background. Go over in your mind what responses you have for questions asked. Hear the conversations about your loved one. See yourself get teary-eyed…that’s okay. Also, see and feel yourself laughing about happy stories and memories about holidays past. This is also okay! Allow yourself to laugh AND allow yourself to cry! There is no right or wrong. It is whatever you want it or feel it to be. What you really want to do is picture the day; the meal. If in your mind it is not going well…picture it again. Picture more positive thoughts. See how that feels. You might see that you feel okay feeling happy. You should do this before the holiday…for a week or two if you can. The more you picture how you want that day, the more you will be prepared. Just remember…It is okay to enjoy yourself.
Third, enjoy the day and enjoy the memories. My dad passed away two weeks before Thanksgiving and I was dreading the holiday. We also had to take care of our mom, who had dementia. We really wanted to make it as enjoyable for her and us as we could. We talked and talked about things my dad did and said during previous Thanksgiving’s. We laughed…my mom laughed. Was it sad? You better believe it! Did we enjoy spending the day together and bringing up funny stories and memories of our dad? You better believe that, too!
It’s important to allow yourself to enjoy yourself…no guilt. If you keep telling yourself how horrible and awful it is going to be and you are going to sit there in a deep depression and not talk to anyone…it will probably be that way. Do you think that is what your loved one would want for you? Probably not. If you keep visualizing the day being okay and making it through the day without a total breakdown, that will happen. Try to use this day as a memorial to your loved one…in honor of them. Again, discussing things they liked to do on that holiday, laughing about the funny things they used to say or do. Did your loved one have a tradition they liked to do? Do you want to keep that tradition up? You could and also, maybe start a new tradition.
One thing I really want to get across is, is that it is okay to enjoy the day. Sure it is going to be difficult not having your loved one there. There is definitely a huge void there. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot go on. You can. Take it one little step at a time. Allow yourself to smile and enjoy the life of your loved one.