I have talked a lot lately about grief and the loss of my father. The holidays have been super tough this year. Honestly, I haven’t always felt like celebrating. However, I am a mom to two little ones and I have always been a Christmas fanatic, to say the least, so I feel like I don’t have a choice. This got me to thinking. I know that I am not the only one dealing with loss this time of year. So the idea for Christmas Angels: Honoring Lost Loved Ones During The Holidays was born. Here are some ways we can honor our loved ones this holiday season.
Are you kneeling with shepherds before him now
Can you reach out and touch his face
Are you part of that glorious Holy night
I wonder what Christmas in Heaven is like.
Is the snow falling down on the streets of gold?
Are the mansions all covered in white?
Are you singing with angels "Silent Night"
I wonder what Christmas in Heaven is like.
-Scotty McCreery, Christmas in Heaven
Christmas Angels: Honoring Lost Loved Ones During The Holidays
My dad passed away in June of this year and my MaMaw Nina passed away in April of 2012. I still think about her constantly during the holidays so I know that the loss of my Daddy won’t get any easier. Christmas was their favorite time of the year. They both loved it. The food, baking, music, movies, decorations, and they both loved the trees and lights. My Daddy loved that it was the beginning of the stock show season. He was an agriculture-loving, cowboy through and through.
Tips on Coping With Loss During the Holidays
I am not naive. I know that there isn’t a fix-all when it comes to grief and missing the ones we have lost, especially during the holidays. However, there are a few things you can do that, hopefully, can ease your sorrow just a bit.
Go ahead and accept that it is going to be tough. This isn’t going to be an easy time of year for you. Fighting the inevitable can actually prolong and intensify your feelings of sadness. Feel the loss completely because it is healing.
Consider taking up the offers of assistance. If you aren’t up to baking, cooking, shopping, etc…let others help you. I know that for me, here lately, just getting out of bed is considered a victory for me. Skip the big gatherings and stick to smaller get-togethers with close friends and family. Do whatever you need to do to get through minute to minute, hour to hour.
Surround Yourself With Loved Ones
This one is hard for me, to be honest because I tend to want to shut myself off from the rest of the world. However, I try to remind myself that it is good to be surrounded by people that loved my Daddy and MaMaw as much as I did. Avoiding certain situations or altering your plans can be a good thing, but you don’t want to completely shut down. Remember that you still have friends and family around that love you and care for you.
Being with family and friends is a good time to share memories about your loved one. Take this time to learn even more about the person that you lost because it might bring you comfort.
Make Time for Self-Care
Use self-care to keep yourself centered during this difficult time. Some examples include exercise, bubble baths, massages, or reading a good book. Find whatever brings you a little bit of comfort and do it. I know that a few weeks after my Daddy passed away, almost every single day, I would take a hot shower, sit in the tub, let the hot water wash over me, and I would just cry. In fact, I still do this almost weekly.
Keep Up Old Traditions and Make New Ones
You want to keep the traditions alive that you created with your loved one. However, this is also a good time to make new ones with your family, while still honoring your lost loved one.
As a kid, Christmas Eve was spent cooking and baking for Christmas Day. We would make cookies to leave out for Santa. Apple Cider or Hot Chocolate would always be in our mugs. Christmas classics would be playing continuously on our TV and the lights (inside and outside) would be on from Christmas Eve morning until after Christmas.
“Light up your home for Santa,” my Dad would say. We would read the Christmas Story and sing “Happy Birthday,” to Jesus.
Christmas Day would be spent at home as a family before we spent the coming days with extended family and friends. We loved being home on Christmas day. We would play games, watch movies, and eat too much. Most of the time we all passed out by the lights of the Christmas tree.
Ideas to Honor Our Christmas Angels
- Make their favorite food.
- Create a playlist of their favorite Christmas songs.
- Create a Memory Tablecloth. You can read about it here. Basically, ask your friends and family members to write down their favorite holiday memories about the ones that are no longer with you on a tablecloth.
- Light a candle at the beginning of your family celebration/dinner and let it burn throughout.
- Add an extra plate for your loved one.
- Create a special ornament for your loved one and place it on the tree every year.
- Give to charity in your loved one’s name.
- A moment of silence.
- Memory Stocking: Write down memories, words of encouragement or appreciation, anything, and place in a stocking.
- Release a balloon with a note attached to your loved one.
- Create a memory board to display in your home.
- Plant a tree.
- Create and give memorial gifts to family members, friends and others who knew your Christmas Angel.
- Make a memorial wreath that you hang on your front door or anywhere in your home.
- Create a “memory chain” by writing your favorite holiday memories or adjectives that reflect your Christmas Angel’s special qualities onto long, narrow strips of colored paper. Form interlinking loops with each piece to form a chain you can hang on your Christmas tree or use to frame a doorway.
These are just a few ideas to honor your lost loved ones. However, do whatever feels right for you and your family depending on the personality and qualities of your own Christmas Angel. I am so sorry for your loss and I know the holidays can be difficult because I am really feeling the pain of my Daddy’s absence. However, I personally believe we will see our Christmas Angels again. May you find a way to still find peace and joy this time of year.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us, a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” -Isaiah 9:6