The holiday season can be an extremely difficult and stressful time. After the death of a family member or loved one, this time of year may seem even more difficult.

As we sit down around the table with our loved ones, grief can bring a complicated array of emotions with the realization that one person is missing this year.

There are many triggers that can sneak up on us as we navigate this time of year. It is the trip to the store to pick out their favorite box of candy, or their favorite dessert that you only made during the holidays season is not on the table this year.

These may seem like little things, but they can trigger big emotions. While there is no right way to prepare for the upcoming events, here are some suggestions to prepare for the coming weeks.

1. Acknowledge that the holidays will be different this year and give yourself permission to grieve the absence of your loved one.

2. It’s okay to keep old traditions. You may find comfort in hanging your loved one’s stocking or setting a place for them at the table.

3. Consider starting a new tradition or creating a new tradition in memory of your loved one.

4. Include your loved one’s favorite dish in the holiday menu in memory of them.

5. Anticipate possible emotional triggers in advance of holiday gatherings and practice coping skills such as deep breathing exercises in preparation for the upcoming events.

6. Drive yourself to holiday gatherings so you can leave if you find yourself overwhelmed.

7. Give yourself permission to skip an event if you are feeling overwhelmed. Prioritize events and don’t over commit yourself.

8. Consider attending a grief group. When holiday cheer gets to be too much, you may find comfort in talking with other people that are experiencing the holiday blues.

As you navigate this holiday season, remember that the Hospice Promise Bereavement Team is available for additional support by calling 623-209-7003.