“It is a fine seasoning for joy to think of those we love.”-Moliere
Holidays may be an awkward time for grievers. First holidays, especially, can be tough. There is no etiquette for how to handle the first year of special events without a loved one. Do we relish in memories of past holidays? Do we share memories with others? Will memories bring sadness? If I am happy, am I disrespecting my lost loved one?
The holiday season is no less fraught for experienced grievers. Memories flood one year, happiness another, and sadness may appear in the next. There is no way to plan for how a griever will feel over any given holiday; every year, like the weather, is different.
Regardless of where you are in your post-loss life, do allow yourself to think of your loved one. Remember your last holiday together, remember the funniest holiday, remember the worst, imagine what you would have done together this year. Memories may bring tears, but they are tears of love, tears of affection, and tears of joy at the thoughts that we hold so dear to us this time of year.
There is nothing wrong with feeling joy in the wake of loss. It is normal. Joyous feelings don’t indicate forgetting, they point toward how much you love and how special your memories are. Yes, tears may come. But they are tears that will carry you through the pain of grief and into a bittersweet place where joy and sorrow dance together.
Let your memories fill you with love, with laughter, with all the things the holiday should. Let this love be the special ingredient that infuses your holidays with joy. Your loved ones are not absent, they are still part of your holiday plans…but now in a different form. Sprinkle that joy everywhere you can.