We all know how difficult grief is. Every individual has their own unique way of mourning, and the mourning period can last weeks to years. When you lose a loved one during a cold and dark winter, grief can feel considerably worse. The thought of opening your home to guests or throwing a memorial service during snowy days may feel overwhelming. So what are some ways that you can memorialize your loved one when the weather is cold and your grief feels unbearable? Are you taking enough time for yourself? Here are a few tips to help you cope with the loss of a loved one during those brutal winter months.
1. Take Some Time for Reflection
Death is not an emergency. If the idea of throwing a memorial service or celebration of life seems too difficult, it is okay to wait. You are under no obligation to act immediately, even if you feel pressured by friends and family. Hearing “so when is the service going to take place?” or “why is there no memorial mentioned in the obituary?” repeatedly may leave you feeling pressured to plan something immediately. You do not need to give in to this pressure! Notify your friends and family that the memorial is going to be delayed and give yourself some time to reflect. Postponing services until warmer weather or a significant anniversary, such as your loved one’s birthday, will allow you time to grieve. This way, you will have time to plan something that truly memorializes your loved one’s personality. It will also allow out-of-town relatives time to plan a trip so that more people can attend the memorial service or celebration of life.
2. DIY and Personalized Memorials
One way that you can memorialize your loved one while giving yourself a healthy distraction is through the art of DIY, or do-it-yourself. Invite your family to a day of honoring your loved one’s memory through crafting, cooking, or scrapbooking. Collect your loved one’s t-shirts and sweaters to create a quilt, stuffed animal, or pillow with them. During the holiday season, you can create a stocking out of old clothing pieces. You can also create ornaments or snow globes with the leftover dried flowers from the funeral and other memorabilia. These can be used with your regular holiday decorations, or you can dedicate an area of your home as a “remembrance corner”, filled with items that they loved. For those who prefer being handy to crafty, consider wood burning or carving a special bench in their memory. If you like the idea of sentimental items but crafting isn’t really “your thing”, there are plenty of online companies that can create custom items for you. Sher’s Memory Bears on Etsy is one of these shops that creates beautiful bears, quilts, pillows and more.
3. Indoor Activities
In addition to creating crafty memorials, there are a number of indoor activities that you can do both alone or with family and friends to memorialize your loved one’s memory. Some of these activities can even help with your own grief. For example, it’s been shown that your sense of smell is closely linked to memory. Spending an evening cooking your loved one’s favorite dish can help you honor their memory while creating new memories with family and friends. Another indoor activity idea is throwing a movie night with their favorite movies and television shows. While the weather outside may be snowy or cold, there are plenty of houseplants that can be planted indoors as well. When the weather gets warmer, you can replant it outside.
4. Explore the Concept of Hygge
Hygge is a Danish value that combines relaxation, coziness, and togetherness as a means for creating a lifetime of happiness. They believe that taking time for yourself and enjoying the simple pleasures in life, such as a cup of cocoa or a pair of woolen socks, will give you comfort and lead to happiness. During a time in your life where happiness can seem far away, especially during the colder months, practicing hygge can give you comfort when it feels as though your life is lacking normalcy. A hyggelig (hygge-like) environment can consist of a roaring fire, cozy blankets, and a day in your softest pajamas. Throw your hair in a messy bun, pull out your old favorite sweater, and put the kettle on while you play boardgames or start a new journal. Hygge can be practiced alone or with others, depending on whether you feel like bringing your family together or if you just need a little “you time.” Speaking of “you time”...
5. Don’t Forget About Self Care
While it may be important for you to honor and memorialize your loved one, especially during the initial grieving period, it is even more important to take care of yourself. Make sure that you are getting an adequate amount of sleep and drinking the recommended amount of water, as crying can dehydrate you very quickly . While you may feel as though no one around you understands what you’re going through, isolating yourself can make you feel even more lost. Make sure that you’re spending time with family and friends and participating in activities that you enjoy. If you feel as though you need a little extra help, don’t be afraid to seek out local support groups or a grief counselor. These are peers and trained professionals who understand what you’re going through and may be able to give you a larger sense of community. Be gentle with yourself-- if you feel paralyzed, focus on only doing one thing each day until you’re ready to handle more. Remember, death is not an emergency. It is okay to take time for yourself and put off memorial services and activities.