This morning I awoke with a heavy heart. I knew someone I hold dear to my heart would be struggling today. As if Thanksgiving wasn’t hard enough. As if Christmas wasn’t hard enough. This person would have to spend today, the birthday of their passed loved one, without them. I know the feeling. I spent the holidays after my loss too inebriated to feel anything real. I’ve dealt a lot with the loss since then. In hopes, dear friend, I can help ease your heart and the heart of others who have lost someone dear this year here are some tips to get through this season.

1. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s okay to feel. I have so much regrets because I didn’t allow myself to feel. Your feelings are valid and okay. You lost someone you love. You’re allowed to hurt today or any other day. The most important thing is to feel during your grieving process. And, just in case you’re wondering, how you feel DOES NOT need to look like how others feel.

2. Do something special for your loved one. For Christmas I got ornaments. Or pulled out the guitar and talked to my loved one. I wrote letters too.

3. Do something special for you. Anticipation builds. Anxiety builds. Nerves build. Grieving can be exhausting. Remember to take some time out for you. Get more sleep. Have a cup of hot tea on the balcony. Get in a spa day.

4. Talk about your loved one with others. Talking helps with the grieving process – I swear this to you. Being around others who love you and love them makes it even easier. Make sure the people you surround yourself with this holiday season, especially today, will love and support you know matter how you feel at this moment.

5. Continue your traditions or create new ones. If doing the same tradition is too difficult for you, it’s okay to create new ones. A friend of mine, after their divorce, created new traditions with their kiddos that became all theirs. Don’t be ashamed of wanting to create something different if it helps you live.

6. Allow yourself to feel joy. This goes with #1 and #7 but felt it important to have on its own. I remember the first time I was happy after losing my dad. I confess I hated myself because he couldn’t be happy with me. But, I realized when I laughed, true and genuine, that was the person he wanted me to be. And those around you, they’re taking their cue from you.

7. Remember it’s okay to let go. I promise, you won’t forget. This was probably the biggest thing I feared – forgetting my loved one. I hung on to all of the memories we shared and refused to accept their passing. They were important in my life and they needed to know that. What I didn’t realize is, by letting them go, being happy, and moving on I began to live a life they wanted for me. Our loved ones never want us to be unhappy.

8. Ask for help. This can be as much as, “Hey, make me laugh.” If you are struggling today or any day, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You aren’t a bother to anyone. You aren’t an inconvenience. Your loved ones want to help, they just don’t know how.

I will always remember how it felt my first Christmas without my dad, my son and my grandpa. It was a dark year. But, I allowed myself to heal. To feel. To love again. It wasn’t easy. It is never easy for whoever goes through it. But, a single step forward is all you need to take the hand outstretched to you. There are so many people who want you to be happy, who support you. Including me.

Also remember, it’s always ok to think of them, remember the amazing memories. Just because you’ve learned to live does not mean you forgot about them. Quite the opposite. It means you’re honoring their memory.

Love and prayers to you. xoxo