Getting Through Your First Holiday Without Your Loved One

November and December are especially difficult months when you’ve lost someone you love. The usual feelings of gratitude and joy surrounding the holidays may be overshadowed by sadness, loneliness, and emptiness – particularly when the death occurred within the last year.

Our Krause Funeral Home staff wants to remind all Milwaukeeans who are coping with death that they are not alone. Even when there’s a cultural pressure to “move on” and join in the merriment of the season, we understand this isn’t always possible or desirable. In fact, the music, parties, food, and decorations that are meant to bring joy may serve as painful reminders of what once was.

Families who turn to Krause for help planning a funeral, cremation, burial, and reception will often ask our care team whether the holidays get easier over time. Will a new wave of pain arrive every year? Will the empty chair at the table always serve as a sad reminder of who is missing? While there are no one-size-fits-all answers to these questions, there are ways to ease the pain. We hope these suggestions will help you better cope on your journey toward healing.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your loved one who died.

Ignoring or pushing aside your pain won’t make it go away. Expressing your emotions with caring friends and family will help you work through the complex feelings that follow a death. Sharing stories about that special person will help you keep their memory alive. These memories are often tinged with a sense of happiness and sadness; it’s helpful to work through both.

You know your limits. Don’t overextend yourself.

Those who grieve may isolate themselves, finding they don’t have the energy or desire to get out of the house or connect with loved ones. Others, though, may stay too busy in an effort to distract themselves from their pain. Decide for yourself what you would like to do this season, and what you might skip. Friends and family may try to pressure you to do things one way or another, but it’s healthier to set your own schedule rather than acquiesce to what they have in mind.

Give back in a way you find meaningful.

One of the best ways to remember the true reason for the season is by helping others. There are plenty of opportunities during the holidays for reaching out to those in need. Contact local charities and churches to find out how they’re meeting needs in your community, and if you feel up to it, get involved. You might be surprised how it lifts your spirits.

Embrace your faith.

No matter where you find yourself spiritually, losing someone close to you can affect your beliefs. If your faith is important to you, make time to attend a service or religious ceremony. You may gain strength in a newfound way or find others in your community who can relate to what you’re going through.

Today and every day, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by grief, reach out to us for help. We’ve been assisting families in Milwaukee on Brown Deer Road and Capitol Drive, and in Brookfield and New Berlin for more than 80 years now and have many connections and numerous resources available. We also have our grief therapy dog, Bennie, on hand to offer comfort and bring a smile.

Above all else, remember that this time of year really isn’t about presents, food, or parties. Rather, it’s about the truest gift of all: love. Reflect on the love you gave and received from the friend or family member you lost. Nothing – not even physical separation – can take that away.

From all of us here at Krause, we wish you love, joy, and peace this holiday season.

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