The holidays are here. The time of year where we find ourselves craving turkey and stuffing, dreaming of leftovers and looking forward to the smell of evergreen. We have joyful memories of holidays from when we were little boys and girls. Yet, for many of us this time of year can remind us of loved ones who are no longer with us. These days can remind us of family members or friends who left us too soon. No matter how they passed, spending the holidays without them is something we will never get used to.
It can be a very difficult time of the year, almost as difficult as the anniversary of their death. For my family, the first year was the hardest. My Uncle Jaay passed at the end of September. When the holidays came, we were all struggling with a deep emptiness in our hearts and had no idea how to handle it all. Some members of my family decided to avoid the holidays altogether. They chose to remove themselves and treat those days as an opportunity to take a vacation from the real world. Other members of my family and I decided to participate in the season and remember all our wonderful holidays with Jaay. We focused on honoring his memory. Honestly, both of these coping strategies are good.
Everyone and every family has their own way of dealing with death. There is no correct way to handle all of this during the holidays, a season that is supposed to be joyful and happy. No one can tell you the steps you need to take to make the holidays what you think they should be. You have to find what makes you happy and helps you cope. I do believe that is important to honor a loved one that has passed.
One of the toughest things to face is that your loved one is truly no longer here and is never coming back. You can’t live you life for them and you can’t do only what you think they would want to be done. I had to accept this and it was the hardest part of dealing with Jaay’s suicide. Now I try to think about how to make my time on this earth the most enjoyable for me and for those around me.
No matter how you decide to spend the holidays remember this: your loved ones would want you to be happy. You can light a memorial candle as a symbol or decide to spend a week at the beach. Either way, spend your holidays surrounded with love and happiness. After all, that’s what this season is all about.