The holidays are upon us. You can feel it in the air. The hustle and bustle is already in full swing, the decorations are on full display and lights are popping up on houses. As we go through the holiday season we wanted to share some helpful tips for self-care and care of those you love throughout the season.

Here at MADD Nebraska, we know that for many the holidays aren’t always easy. During this time of togetherness, it becomes even more difficult knowing someone is missing. Victims of impaired driving are reminded throughout the holiday season, that their loved one isn’t there to celebrate with them. So, we think it is important to share some helpful tips for both those coping with the loss of a loved one and those surrounding and supporting them.

Hints for Those Coping With Loss This Holiday

-Give Yourself Grace. This may sound like stating the obvious. But as holiday engagement invites roll in and shopping piles up, it is easy to feel like you have to do it all or put on a good face for others. It is ok to not be ok.

-Say No When You Need To. You are not required to accept an invitation. It is alright to say no when you need to. Or even to cancel because you are having a bad day. We are not saying you should hide away from the world for the whole season, but don’t feel obligated to go to everything. If you can’t handle something emotionally, or just need a day off. Say No.

-Ask For Support. Most people, especially other friends and family, understand and want to help. But sometimes you need to help them know what you need. So it is up to you to vocalize it. People have kind hearts, but not the ability to read minds. If you need someone to come over and sit with you, ask a friend. If you need to go out shopping but it feels overwhelming to do it alone, tell someone and see if they will go with you. Most people understand and care, even if they aren’t sure how to react or act. if you tell them it not only helps them help you, it helps them learn and grow to help others.

-Do Something To Honor Your Loved One. Hang their favorite ornaments on the tree. Do a random act of kindness in their honor. Watch their favorite movie while drinking hot cocoa. Embrace the traditions you lived with them instead of hiding from them. While it may be hard, sharing these moments and living their memories is healing and helps the person you are missing be part of your holiday.

Hints for Those Helping Someone Coping With Loss.

-Say Their Name. We cannot remind you of this enough. Don’t try to avoid conversation about the person that isn’t there. Talk about your memories with a loved one who isn’t there. Ask their family members about their memories with them. Say their name. It is a common misconception that by avoiding the conversation about a loved one who has been killed we are helping the people grieving, making it so they don’t think about that person. But, trust us, they are always thinking of that person and they want to be able to talk about them and share their memories and stories. So say their name.

-Ask What They Need. Just because you would want something, doesn’t mean everyone would. So ask. Ask what people need and ask how they are doing. Because sometimes the simple act of acknowledging that the season might be tough for them is enough to make a difference.

-Don’t Leave Them Out, Just Because They May Say No. keep on inviting them. Just because they said no last time, doesn’t mean that they may not want to come next time. And by being invited and included they can still feel your support. And if they continue to say no to big party invites, invite them to something a little quieter.

-Realize Smaller May Be Better. Just because someone isn’t feeling a giant holiday party, doesn’t mean they want to be alone. Set aside time to have lunch one on one or get together with a small group. For someone who is still navigating death, navigating a party where people are sure how to interact with your grief can be exhausting. While a cup of coffee with someone who truly cares can be re-energizing.

The most important thing we can all do is be kind and understanding. To others and to ourselves. As we navigate the holiday season and throughout the new year.