Losing a loved one to death is a painful and traumatic experience. The loss of a loved one is always painful, but during the holidays, the feelings of loss can be even more acute. In my interviews for my book Soul Service: A Hospice Guide to the Emotional and Spiritual Care for the Dying ( Balboa Press, 2013)www.soulservice.info it was found that the dying person wants to be included as much as possible in all family activities and certainly longs to be touched physically and an active participant in the death process. Most dying people prefer to make their transition at home.
Once the death has occurred the family must come to terms with the finality of the experience. The ability to talk openly and honestly about feelings of sadness and loss and lean on one another for emotional support in a time of sorrow is important. Grief has its own timetable for each individual, but there are some general tips provided below by The American Cancer Society that can help you get through this especially difficult time following the death of a loved one:
When to seek help
People who have lost a loved one often feel more intense loss or grief around the holidays. But severe depression, grief, or mourning that continues for a long time without getting better may require professional help. Symptoms can include:
In some people, the grieving process can go on for a long time. But if symptoms like these last more than 2 months after the loss, you might benefit from professional assistance.
Some ideas for honoring your loved one’s memory would be to take out pictures and relive happy family memories. Make a scrapbook of mementos to be passed on to the next generation. Put together a DVD or video of pictures of the dead love done accompanied by his or her favorite songs to be passed out to family members. Include in the holiday mealtime a special moment of prayer or silence in the loved ones memory or go around the table to share a happy or funny story about the loved one. Often there can be a small garden, tree, bush or plant dedicated to the memory of a loved. Making a monetary contribution to a favorite charity or church that your deceased loved one was involved with is also a good way to honor someone’s memory. The passage of time always to help heal a major loss but taking the time to process your feelings about the loss and get the help you need for support and resources during this difficult time can make all the difference.