The holidays are here. For so many those words bring joy and excitement. But, for many families who have been impacted by impaired driving, this time of year brings a lot of other emotions. MADD Nebraska knows that holidays can be a challenging time for those who have lost a loved one to impaired driving. To help you make it through we have compiled a list of helpful hints.

Be gentle with yourself and protect yourself. Too often we are hard on ourselves. There is no timeline for grief. There is no secret formula for feeling normal or ready for things. Be gentle and patient.

Allow time for the feelings. Don’t bottle them up. It is ok to feel grief during the holidays. It is ok to cry and take time to feel your emotions. Just like it is ok to feel joy during the season. Feeling sadness during the holidays doesn’t take away their joy. Just like feeling joy during the season doesn’t take away from your loss or the memory of your loved one.

Allow others to help. Surround yourself with people who love and support you. Find the people that support you and spend holidays with them. Share your emotions and plans with other so they can help you throughout the season. People do not know what you need without you telling them so it is important to share how others can help.

Pay extra attention to the children. Children are too often the forgotten grievers. It is important to not forget that kids go through all of the same emotions. Don’t forget to talk to them and give them special attention as they navigate the holiday season and grief.

Don’t “cancel” the holiday. Engage with people and holiday activities. It is easy to give into the temptation to just avoid holidays all together. And while it is just fine to limit the number of events you go to or avoid certain circumstances that you know will bring stress. It is best to not isolate yourself.

Create new traditions that honor your loved one. Traditions can change when a loved one dies. Instead of avoiding traditions create something new. Honor a loved one in a toast or by lighting a candle. Have your loved ones favorite food for a holiday dinner. Take time in your day to visit a special place or their graveside. Embrace new traditions that respect your loss and honor your memories.

The holidays change when you lose a loved one to impaired driving but that doesn’t mean they are something you can never enjoy again. Take time and use these hints to cope throughout the season. And always remember that MADD is here for you. If you need support from a victim advocate you can reach out to the MADD Nebraska State Office at (402) 434-5330 or call the 24-hour helpline at 1-877-MADD-HELP.