Losing a loved one unexpectedly is devastating. The holidays can be especially tough, especially when celebrating the first holiday without your loved one. Grief can rise up at any time, even after someone has been gone for many years, but there is something especially tender about those first major celebrations without an important part of the family.

At MacCloskey Kesler and Associates, we have worked hand-in-handwith grieving families for decades. Our compassion for our clients, and our dedication to serving them well, has given us first-handexperience helping people who are going through their first winter holidays while actively grieving a loved one. While nothing will compare to having your loved one with you this season, there are a few ways you can cope and survive during this tough time.

Say No
Your holiday this year is going to look different, and that is okay. Take care of yourself, and those in your family, by knowing it is perfectly acceptable to say “no thank you” to invitations to celebrations, events, dinners, coffee, or other opportunities. Even better, you don’t need to offer a reason for declining; just say no. You also have the right to cancel if you just aren’t feeling up to it.

Surround Yourself With People You Love
Grief can feel isolating, but research has shown that support from others is crucial during the process. Resist the urge to keep your grief a solo sport, instead choosing to invite people you love and trust into it with you.

Honor Your Loved One
People grieving the loss of a loved one are often shocked and saddened when others are too nervous to mention the person who has passed away. This season, honor your loved one in a tangible way. Add a special ornament to your tree, light a candle for them all season long, share good stories about the person around the table during dinner.

Focus On Yourself and Your Health
Grief can make it extremely difficult to put yourself, and your needs, first. However, without a focus on proper sleep, nutrition, and activity, you can feel like you are drowning (and you will likely get sick). Do what you need to do to get the sleep you need, the food you need, and the activity you need to feel well and cope with stress. Ask for help from those around you, who will happily rally to support you.

We are thinking of you this holiday season, and hope you find moments of peace.

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