By David Sanchez
The holidays can be a very difficult and trying time for any family that is caring for a loved one or experiencing their first year of loss. The holidays are closely associated with celebrations with family, which can only highlight the struggles they are going through. Also, everyone is seemingly happy during the holidays, which can make a family feel more isolated. Decorations of various holidays are in every store, festive music is playing, and the smells of seasonal foods are everywhere. It can feel like the holidays are unavoidable for families that are clearly not in the mood to celebrate.
The best way to support a family member that is sharing their feelings about the holidays is by listening to their experience without judgment. It may seem obvious, but letting them know it’s ok to be dreading the holidays is validating. Acknowledging that there is a lot of pressure around these times is helpful. You may even share the fact that many families scale back festivities and obligations during the holidays. Some families change up traditions to ease the reminders, or triggers. It’s common for families to spend the weekend in San Diego or Sedona instead of adhering to tradition the first year. It helps reduce the amount of triggers they are surrounded by. Conversely, some families keep to tradition if it’s more comforting or if they feel it honors their loved one best.