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the RELATIONSHIP dance WITH VICKI MINERVA Coping With Loss During the Holidays T he holidays are “supposed” to be a time of joyous celebration, time with family and friends filled with laughter and happiness. It’s no surprise that it doesn’t always work out that way. The impact of loss during a time filled with these expectations makes it particularly difficult. Whether by death, divorce, a significant change in your life circumstances or financial losses, the contrast between the expectations associated with the holidays and the reality of your situation can salt an already painful wound. It’s particularly important during these times that you allow yourself to be flexible and take care of yourself along the way. Some people have opted to skip the holidays entirely by traveling, or dispensing with any of the usual customs. It is an option, and may be a way to get through the first year. Just be aware that it really only delays the emotional hit of going through that first Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas. The “year of firsts” through birthdays, holidays, and special occasions is tough but important to work through. Grief is a process. It takes time and some emotional sorting out to heal from the hurt of losing something or someone important to you. As scary as it may be, let yourself feel your feelings. You don’t have to open them up for all to see, but respecting your feelings as normal and natural, whether sadness, anger, or even joy, helps you to let them resolve rather than denying the feelings or bottling them up. They will have more control of you than you realize, affecting your decisions and rela- tionships when ignored. Be patient and kind to yourself. Know in advance that your feelings will be more intense and build in some room to deal with them. There may be some traditions that bring comfort and a sense of connection or stability. Do those things. There may be some that are too hard given the changes in your resources, or too painful due to your losses. It’s okay to change things up. Maybe you prepare food that is a comforting reminder of your loved one as a way of honoring them, or prepare a food that you like but didn’t prepare because your loved one wasn’t fond of it as a way of acknowledging that it’s different now. Some of the changes may include deliberately spending time with select people that you trust. Isolation is not good. You don’t have to be ready to face a major family party, so simplifying and downsizing where and how you do the holidays is a way to baby step your way through them. Perhaps you do a quiet New Year’s Eve with close friends at their cabin rather than doing your usual festive night out. Let others know what you need this season. Most people will understand and be happy to support you during this tough time. Find ways to remember your loved ones. After losing a couple of family members, my daughter picked Christ- mas ornaments that captured the essence of those people and gave them to my husband and me. It has continued to be a sweet acknowledgement of those people every year as we trim our tree. Others have crafted a wreath or decorative item to represent and honor someone special. Perhaps you light a candle in memory of them or tell stories about the person who has died. It’s a comfort to know that others are aware of and remember your loved one. Your friends and family will take their cues from you as to how comfortable you are with these conversations. You may find comfort and a sense of gratitude by helping others. Perhaps there is an organiza ѥѡЁ݅́ȴ)хЁѼԁȁȁٕ5)ѥѼɕȁ)ɕ͕ɍȁѼѡ͔ݡɔ)չєMѥ͕٥Ѽ)ѡ͔ݡɔЁ)͡ѕȸeȁЁѥȁ䁍)ɥЁѼԁ́ݕ́ѡ͔)ԁɔ)ѡ́́Ѽͅ䰁͕ٔ)ɵͥѼЁЁɕиA)ɽȁԁѼѥݥ)ѡЁԁIѼ́а)ѡӊéɵ1Ёչɕѥ)хѥ̸ Ё-)ͥͬȁչх)-܁ѡЁѡɔݥ䁅݅́)ѕɹ̰ЁЁݽeЁ݅́Ёѡ)݅䁥Ёܸ́)Y5لٕ́)ݽɭѡ)MѠ չ䁅ɕ)5ɥ)QɅЁȁٕȀ)啅̸!ȁՍѥ)Ց́4ظɕ)ɽձȁM䁅)45ɥ) չ͕ɽMф) ɄUٕͥ丁 х)ȁЀ́)٥ͥЁ٥ل)5䁝́Ѽɽ٥ԁݥѠͽɵѥԁ́ѽ́ѡЁݥԁٔȁ)ɕѥ́͡ѡȁ̸݅Q́ɵѥ́ЁՉѥєȁͽչ͕͡ձЁхЁѕи)QɔɔɕхѡɅ́ѡMѠ չ䁅ɕ͡ձԁѥ)%1I=d5=I8!%10M85IQ%8)9=Y5 H 5 H)ѽ乍(