December 1st is a day that will be a very important date in my family’s lives. It is the day that my uncle no longer suffered. The day that he was finally resting.
December 1, 2016 was the day that my uncle was called back home to be with my great grandparents and so many others that had gone before him.
The holidays are just not the same without him around. My uncle, Orlando, embodied all things Christmas. He always had the latest gadgets. My uncle loved spreading Christmas cheer at home and at work.
He was the first one in our family to get outdoor Christmas inflatables and his smile could be felt by every single customer that walked into the Publix store that he managed. (For those that don’t know, Publix is a grocery store here in the Southeast.)
My uncle was the cruising king. For every holiday or occasion you could find him lounging by the pool deck or on line at the buffet. I can still hear his laughter and excitement.
My uncle fought a long hard battle with many illnesses and his loss can be felt by everyone in my family.
As the holidays officially kick off, his loss can be felt now more than ever.
As a family, we have had our good days and bad days. Dealing with grief and coping with loss is a never-ending cycle especially during the holidays. The holiday blues are real!
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Coping with Loss: Ways to Move Forward
I wanted to share a few ways that my family and I have used in coping with loss and moving forward.
A big one that I hope to start with my family is volunteer in hospitals and homeless shelters during the holidays.
My uncle passed away in a hospital and I could tell that hospitals are not a fun place to be during the holiday season.
We spent my uncle’s last Thanksgiving in a hospital and it was very somber. I hope to spread holiday cheer in the hallways with families of patients and with patients who don’t really get a lot of visitors.
It’s just a small gift that will show that person that you care about them and are thinking of them during their difficult time.
2. Go on Vacation
As I said before, my uncle was the cruising king. I’m not entirely sure if my uncle ever went on Christmas cruises, but I am certain that he went on cruises for Thanksgiving.
Taking a vacation during the holiday season can be a great way to get your mind off of the negative and really give you time to focus on the positive things that are going on in your life.
Last year my grandmother and I went on a cruise for Thanksgiving in my uncle’s honor and we had an amazing time.
Overall, it was a blast, but there were times when we would stop and just reflect on my uncle. The last day of the cruise we made it a point to go to Johnny Rocket’s for lunch because my uncle’s favorite place to eat on the cruise ship was there. My uncle was a burger and French fry kinda guy.
My grandmother has not had beef since she was younger, but she sacrificed herself for a bite or two so we could connect with my uncle at that moment.
At one point, we both just stopped our meal and just cried while we watched the waves pass and thought of my uncle. It was truly a beautiful moment that my grandmother and I shared.
3. Create New Traditions
It may not be the easiest thing to do, but maybe starting new traditions will help you and your family get through the holiday blues.
As a child, I remember the times of us all waiting around in the living room of my great grandma’s house for “Santa” to arrive so that we could open our presents.
It was usually a family member that was dressed up in the iconic red suit and I remember that my uncle, Orlando, would sometimes be in that suit.
As I’ve gotten older, we’ve moved passed the days of Santa coming to visit and instead my grandfather reads The Christmas Story from the Bible.
This is a new tradition that we have started as a family. Creating this new tradition has helped us bridge the gap between older days when my uncle was around and the new normal or him no longer being there with us. His love for Christmas is still with us, but it has evolved into something new.
4. Use their Christmas Décor
A great way to help with coping with loss is by incorporating their Christmas decorations with your new Christmas decorations.
Using their decorations keeps their memory alive while you also build onto their memory by moving forward with the new.
I find my grandma using my uncle’s decorations and gifts in her house for Christmas. Having these items out will hopefully spark the memory for other family members and gets the conversation going.
5. Be on your own
For some people, the pain of missing a loved one can be too intense and they need to be left alone.
First of all, that is more than okay. You do not need to feel ashamed for wanting to be on your own. I encourage you to spend time with yourself to process your grief in the best way that you can think of.
You are left to be in a judgment free zone where you can cry when you want to and as loud as you want to. You have no pressure to try to please anybody else.
The first few days after my uncle passed away, my grandmother did that and it really helped her in coping with loss. She has since found other coping mechanisms but the number one way she was able to get through was by being by herself.
I hope you find these useful. If you think of any others that need to be added, please feel free to leave a comment below or send them to my email. I appreciate all of your support and I hope this holiday season is your best one yet! Don’t forget to vote in The Ultimate Christmas Movie Bracket!