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Holiday Plan

Speaking from experience and research, having a plan for navigating the holidays will be well worth the time spent in preparing your plan.

You will need two sheets of paper. On the first sheet list all the things that normally need to get done. These activities might include shopping, card buying/addressing and mailing, cooking, decorating, gift wrapping, entertaining, visiting family, or anything else that you normally do during the holiday. On the second sheet you will list any traditions that are specific to your family. These things might include holiday dinners, traditional food dishes, the gift exchange, special outings, holiday attire or photo opportunities.

After you have compiled your two lists take a break and give yourself some time to mourn. This exercise forces you to think about all of the things that will be drastically different for you. You have acknowledged the upcoming holiday season. You are working through accepting that your loved one is not going to be present this year.

The next step to your holiday plan is to adjust. This year, give yourself permission to adjust your traditions and activities to meet your needs.

With your activities list in front of you; honestly evaluate each activity by asking yourself these questions: 1. Do I feel like doing it? 2. Can I skip it this year? Why or why not? 3. Can someone else do it or help me get it done? 4. If I feel I NEED to do it, WHY do I need to do it?

You will do the same with your traditions list. Traditions can be a little tricky to navigate, but remember, this is for you and your needs. Looking at this list, honestly evaluate each tradition by asking yourself these questions: 1. If I feel I NEED to do it, WHY do I need to do it? 2. Can anything make a task or obligation easier? 3. How can I bring the memory of my beloved into our traditions? 4. What new traditions can I create to honor my beloved’s memory and our love?

Take your time, jot notes in the margins, focus on the highlights and let the other things go. You will begin to see what is most important and deserves your energy. Plan for how you want your holiday to be celebrated this year. Feel free to skip the whole holiday season if that is what needs to happen. Once your plan is formulated, share it with your family and friends. Share your desires and ask them to support you this year as you experience this holiday season with grief in your life.

The information in this blog was taken from the work of a friend, Karla Helbert. She, like myself is an advocate for those living with grief. Her “Make a Plan” work sheet and info gram can be found at


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