How to Survive the Holidays Without Your Loved Ones

Growing up, my dad used to always take my brother and I, along with our mom, back home to Edenton, which is an extremely small town in North Carolina for Thanksgiving. As we got older, things changed. My parents separated and once my mom realized that her yearly invitation for all-you-can-eat pork chops and chicken was null and void, she stopped attending. In similar fashion, my brother also followed suit and stopped going off the strength of being a momma`s boy.

This situation forced me to volunteer myself, as I ended up riding shotgun with my dad on the seven-hour journey to go see the very same family members who, during the year, never had any desire to contact and or see me. Except for two very special people; Addie Lee and William Davis. Most affectionately known as my grandma and grandpa. They always called and when they were able to, they would drive up to Maryland and visit. As I got into my teen years, my grandpa was diagnosed with dementia; leaving him mentally and physically unable to enjoy the holiday`s and people that he once loved. Sadly, after a long battle with the mental disorder, he passed quietly in his sleep.

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Being 18 at the time of his death, I didn’t really understand how influential he was to our family until we got to Thanksgiving and Christmas season. It was unsettling sitting in the family room knowing that he was never gonna walk out from the bedroom and greet us. This situation leads me into my wisdom topic for this week, which is surviving the holidays without your loved ones.

I based my list around not only what I’ve learned, but also what I have observed through the years. What works for me might not work for you. Remember, that is okay and eventually as you move and groove through the season, you will end up forming your own ways for appreciating all the love and blessings around you rather than wishing for the new year to come. Nevertheless, let’s get into this list:

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Be present not just physically, but also emotionally. Enjoy the memories that your family shares with you about your loved ones. I love telling and hearing stories about the things my grandpa used to do that when I was younger that I didn’t pay attention to. He used to buy his favorite grandkids bags of penny candy. I didn’t realize that by him handing me this bag of candy that he was assuring his love and adoration for me. Watching my dad laugh and cry while reflecting really brings this unexplainable joy that I never get a chance to see him express on a daily basis.

Get out of the house and be around family and friends. Accept at least one invitation. Not only do I go to the various houses of my relatives, but I also visit my friends. Why? Because my friends are essentially my FAMILY. If you have no one, consider being the light in someone’s life and volunteering. Every year, I go to Our Daily Bread in Baltimore City and hand out food to the homeless. Before Christmas, I dedicate my time and wrap gifts to give out during Toys for Tots. The holiday season is more about giving back rather than receiving.

If you have no one, consider being the light in someone’s life and volunteering…

The holiday season is more about giving back rather than receiving.

Remember that love doesn’t end at death. Welcome the healthy conversations that people may ask. My first year of life on Earth is the marker for death on my mother’s side. So when people ask how old I am, it`s equated with the amount of time that my grandmother has been gone for. The good part is that people ask my mother how she feels and if she is okay during this season. Always remember that talking about it is a form of coping and that is okay. If you are not comfortable with talking, journal then. I find myself writing my thoughts down in the notes app on my iPhone when I may not comfortable opening up.

Cry. Scream. React. You’re human! I like to cry by myself right before I get out of my bed simply because keeping it in does nothing for my soul. Grieving is a natural reaction that shouldn’t be looked down on – it’s the best release ever, I promise.

Grieving is a natural reaction that shouldn’t be looked down on – it’s the best release ever

Self Care/ Self Love. Make sure you take care of yourself. Meditate. Pray. Write. Listen to music. I find myself going to yoga because it allows me to clear my head of all the negative thoughts that I accrued during the week. Do whatever makes your heart happy.

Make sure you take care of yourself…Do whatever makes your heart happy

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