Whether your family celebrates Christmas, Hanukah or another holiday in this season of giving, times can sometimes be trying. The loss of a loved one often makes a home feel empty and the holidays less festive. Once beloved memories this year only serve to remind the family of the person missing from the room. Watching others celebrate, feel thankful and spend time together might bring feelings of loneliness and loss that are often quite painful but difficult to admit to.

After a loss, holidays often serve to remind us that things will never be the same. The first holiday apart is usually the most difficult, and acknowledging this is the first step in overcoming grief and starting to create new, happy memories. Planning ahead is also key as sometimes the anticipation is even more difficult than the holiday itself.

Here are some tips that can help you or an aging loved one plan ahead and cope with grief this holiday season.

Set Realistic Expectations

After losing a spouse or aging relative, it is never a good idea to expect that keeping up with your previous schedule and plans through the holidays will feel the same. Examine past tasks, parties and events. Ask yourself honestly if you want to continue them. You need not feel guilty if you decide to skip something for a year or let it go from this year forward. It is also okay to take others up on their offers of help. You do not have to go it alone.

Surround Yourself with Love

This year especially, spend time with people you love. Even if you decide not to attend parties, invite one or two relatives to your house and enjoy small celebrations. This is a great way to reminisce and make new memories which can bring comfort. Seniors who have a trusted professional in home caregiver might also enjoy increasing their time with that person temporarily for extra companionship through the holiday seasons. Whatever you do, never isolate yourself as this often only increases loneliness, sadness and feelings of depression.

Do for Others

A wonderful way to remember a loved one after their passing is by giving to others. Consider offering a charitable donation in the person’s name, or give of your time if you are physically able. Invite over a friend who would otherwise be alone this time of year, or adopt a family and provide a meal and small gifts. Giving to others often provides us with a sense of purpose, and creating new meaning during the holidays is a positive way to move forward

Take Care of Yourself

When the holidays are at their busiest, it is easy for all of us to forget our own needs. This is especially true for a senior who is grieving. Try to avoid the hustle and bustle through the holidays. Take time for yourself. Allow yourself time to grieve, cry, feel angry or get upset. Eat healthy, take your medications and make physical exercise a part of your day. If grieving leaves you feeling frail, weak or unable to perform day to day tasks, seek medical assistance. If your loved one was in hospice care, keep in mind bereavement counseling remains available after their passing. In home care from an accredited agency like Salus Homecare Orange County might also be beneficial.

There really is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays following a loss. Plan ahead, seek support and take care of yourself. With time, things will get easier. This year, focus on what makes you happy while allowing yourself time to grieve if necessary. Your loved one would want you to move forward, create new memories and learn to love the holidays once again. Do just that in your own time.