For many people, December is a very difficult time of year. Cold dark days, combined with memories of past celebrations with family members or friends who are no longer here, can magnify feelings of sadness and loss.

xmasIt can help to plan ahead, ensuring those plans can be easily changed in response to a change in feelings or stressors. Ask yourself questions such as “who would I like to spend time with?” and “how will I spend the day”? Tell friends and family what you need and openly ask for their support. Allow space in your life to allow for your grief, because grief is a journey with its own timelines and the journey will take time, focus and energy.

It is important to care for you, and this helps to balance time spent alone vesrus time spent with others. Connecting with a new or old friend for a walk, a movie or lunch can help ease the strain. Remind yourself that a part of healing is to making room to acknowledge your feelings, whatever they may be. Trust yourself and be guided by your own instincts.

Look for ways to honour the person who died such as lighting a special candle, creating a scrapbook with photos of the person you have lost, creating a memorial space in dedication to them, sponsoring a memorial award, or making a donation to a charity.

No matter what you are feeling, it may help to remember that experiencing sad, confusing and intense feelings during special events is normal and very much a common part of the grieving process. It is okay to allow yourself to laugh or to cry when you need to. There is no right or wrong when it comes to mourning: there is only what works for you. Sometimes figuring this out takes time and patience.

On behalf of Hub Hospice Palliative Care, we encourage you to be patient and gentle with yourself during these times.

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Content courtesy of the Champlain Hospice Palliative Care Program.