How to Cope with the Loss of Loved Ones Around the Holidays
The holiday season is full of bright lights, cheerful music, and tasty treats. But when you are dealing with the aftermath of a death, a season normally filled with joy can quickly become choked with painful grief.
Coping with the loss of loved ones is never easy, but the contrast between “Christmas cheer” and the absence of someone you care about can be especially overwhelming. At C. O. P. S. Arizona, we help families of fallen police officers process their grief and rebuild some happiness and normalcy in their lives over time. Here are our best suggestions for how to cope with the loss of loved ones around the holidays.
1. Be kind to yourself.
Don’t try to take on more than you can emotionally handle during this time of year – be patient with your grieving heart and know that while things will never be the same, with time you will feel joy again. Focus on doing things that make you feel the most comfortable as you process a loss and lots of change.
2. Set the boundaries you need.
If spending the holiday festivities with groups of family and friends feels too overwhelming, limit how much time you spend with others. They should and will respect your need to decompress and survive the holidays as best you can.
3. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
On the other hand, if you are feeling lonely during this time of year, don’t hesitate to rely on your support system. Make plans with close friends or relatives who bring you genuine joy and comfort. You are not a burden or an inconvenience to them: they love you and want to be there for you.
4. Find a way to make a difference.
One of the most fulfilling ways to spend the holidays is by helping others. After the loss of loved ones, it’s hard not to compare every holiday and special occasion to the previous years spent with them. Sometimes creating a new tradition like volunteering at a soup kitchen, toy drive, nursing home, or another local community project can help you find a different source of joy instead of focusing on the constant absence of the person you miss.
5. Find a way to honor your memories.
Grief looks different for every single person. But one of the most universally helpful strategies to process grief is to find special ways to honor the person you are missing deeply. If your loved one was a police officer, one way you can honor them throughout the holiday season is to participate in Project Blue Light. Simply place a blue LED light in one window to represent your fallen officer. You could also create a scrapbook full of your most treasured memories, or bake their favorite Christmas cookies.
Coping with the Loss of Loved Ones During the Holidays
While there might not be an easy way to run away from your grief, you can take steps to ease the pain you feel during the holiday season. If you and your family are mourning the loss of a fallen law enforcement professional, reach out to C. O. P. S. for resources and support to help you start moving forward and rebuilding your life.
C.O. P. S. Arizona is dedicated to rebuilding shattered lives of survivors and co-workers affected by line of duty deaths. We offer programs and scholarships for survivors in our local Arizona chapter. For more information, visit https://www.copsarizona.org/.