Surviving The Holidays After Losing A Loved One

Near the end of April earlier this year, I lost my best friend, Ty to a heart attack. She was 26 years old. She had POTS and EDS and we spent a lot of time having the same conversation over and over between the two of us.

She had been sick for a very long time before I met her and got my own illnesses: Interstitial Cystitis, Endometriosis, and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction.

Being sick in general is tough, but finding out you have a chronic illness(es) that, for the foreseeable future, have no cure, makes it that much harder. But when you find someone who understands that sick part of you, as well as accepting you for exactly who you are, you have a friend for life. We have spent more hours than I can count being there for each other, being supportive of each other and our limitations.

  1. Take the time to learn a new hobby or try and improve on a hobby you already have. This has been such a good Coping skill for me. It allows me to get better with my hobbies such as my jewelry making, and if I manage to pick up a new hobby, it takes up a significant length of time to learn all I need too and what things work best for me.
  2. Not long after Ty passed away, I knew I had to do something different, otherwise I would become too comfortable in the rut I allowed myself to get stuck in. I have been a writer for as long as I can remember and I have an easier time working through difficult parts of my life when I put the pen to paper and ‘word vomit’ all of the thoughts and emotions in my head, in no particular order and more often then not, it ends up reading like a huge jumbled mess. But, for me, that helps. So one day I picked up a journal and started writing letters to her, trying to make sense of all that was going on.
  3. Surround yourself with friends and family. It has made a big difference, knowing I don’t have to talk about it. I can just be. I don’t have to be alone.
  4. On the days you find yourself really struggling, try and spend even just a few minutes doing something for someone else. About this time last year, I had just finished creating Ty’s Christmas gift-35 Open When Letters. In the last few days, I have felt the need to do something for someone else, namely my sister who will be graduating at the end of the current school year. So, as part of her upcoming graduation present, I’ve decided to do her own personal Open When letters. If I am unable to be there for her graduation, she can still know I’m thinking about her on that day.
  5. Do something that will help you remember them, but don’t get stuck in the rut like in the past. One of our favorite things to do together when neither of us had much energy, was watch Invader Zim over and over. Her amazing fur baby service dogs name is Gir from the show. I’ve started re watching that show recently.
  6. Set reasonable expectations for how you want this holiday to go, but avoid keeping yourself too busy that you end up pushing yourself too far.
  7. Create a new holiday tradition to accommodate your recent loss.
  8. Light a candle in memory of your loved one.
  9. Ask for, and accept help. As difficult as letting your walls come down enough to admit you can’t deal with the loss alone is, sometimes that can be a step forward in dealing with the loss.
  10. Stop making comparisons between how the holidays used to be and how they have changed forever. Don’t put yourself down by saying things like “I should be doing____”, “_____ would want…,” and just allow yourself to feel your emotions. Don’t try and stuff them all away so you can have a ‘normal’ holiday with friends and family. No one greives the same way, same length of time. Just take care of yourself the best you can.
  11. Don’t allow others opinions dictate how the holidays will go. If you can’t bring yourself to act cheerful and ‘normal’ that’s okay.
  12. No matter how you feel, keep the lines of communication open with friends and family.
  13. Go at your own pace. Do not feel like you have to do what you’ve done during the holidays in the past. Start small. Baby steps.
  14. Have a plan B. If the holidays get to be too much, give yourself permission to change the plan as many times as you need.
  15. Give yourself time through the holidays to take a few minutes and listen to music, journal, draw, etc.
  16. Take a deep breath. In, out. Repeat.
  17. Take a few minutes and reminisce about your loved one.
  18. Create/buy a new decoration as a one time thing or as a yearly project. This is what I chose to do as a way to remember her. A memorial plaque, pictures of us, and a large stock of candles that I light every night, even for just a few minutes.
  19. Consider seeking professional help. Like with writing all your thoughts down, speaking the words out loud can also be helpful.
  20. Visit a favorite place of your loved ones. Let your emotions out.
  21. Ask friends and family to respect how you want to celebrate, or even if you don’t want to celebrate at all. Don’t allow others to make you feel guilty for how you choose to grieve.
  22. Create a mood playlist. Sometimes blasting music can temporarily distract your thoughts from spinning in circles.

Is there something else you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

5 thoughts on “Surviving The Holidays After Losing A Loved One

    • spooniesanctuaryblog says:

      It sure has been hard, because along with losing her, my pain has gotten a lot worse and the doctors say they’re running out of things to try and while I know that there is always something to try, I’m worried they will actually run out of things to try as I’ve tried almost everything many times over.
      I’m sorry for your loss as well. Losing family is a lot harder I’m sure than losing a friend but for me its still so hard and I can’t stop bawling. We had so many plans for tonight together..

      Liked by 1 person

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