The holidays often bring up a range of emotions when you’ve lost an important member of your family. Sentiments of happiness, sadness, and loneliness can swirl in your mind. It’s perfectly okay for you to recognize and express your many emotions during the holidays and beyond. It’s part of your own healing process and a way for you to grieve.

Here’s a simple list of things that you may consider as you navigate your feelings during the holiday season:

1. Take time for yourself
Give yourself a break from all of the tasks on your holiday to-do list. Take a pause from baking the dozens of cookies that you promised you’d make for your family. The gifts can be wrapped tomorrow. Make extra time to reflect on the season. Carve out some moments that are just for you—draw a hot bath, go for a walk, drive around town and admire the twinkling lights. Take your time and be kind to yourself.

2. Create new traditions
Acknowledge that some of the honored traditions that were typically assigned to your loved one may need to be altered after they are gone. This could be an opportunity for you to put your personal touch on longstanding traditions. For example, my grandmother always made Michigan rock cookies over the holidays. I’ve tried so many times to honor her memory by making those cookies, but they always turned out like actual rocks. I’ve decided to stick with the recipes that I am more confident with while baking with my young daughter. I’ve learned that it’s the time that we spend together that’s more important than the actual finished product and I know my gram would approve.

3. Honor old traditions
Simple family traditions can still continue while you’re grieving. You get to decide what’s important to help keep memories alive. Every year, my family lights a bayberry candle and puts pennies on the windowsills for good luck on New Year’s Eve. It’s not a tedious task—in fact, finding the candle is often the hardest part. Remember something simple like this tradition and continue on in memory of your loved ones.

4. Talk about it
Talking about how you’re feeling is part of the grieving process. Sharing stories about loved ones that have left us is normal. Confiding in family and friends about how you’re feeling is important. Find small moments in your day to talk about your loved ones and how they may have enjoyed this holiday season. If you’re finding it particularly difficult to talk to your family about your grief, please seek professional help. Talking to a trained professional about your grief is nothing to be ashamed of in today’s society.

5. Find joy
Despite your grief, give yourself permission to find some joy during this holiday season. Whether it’s having a laugh at your pet wearing a holiday sweater, tricking your kids with the elf, or blasting your favorite music while running errands—allow yourself simple acts of joy. Those small moments can help cut through the heaviness of grief to make the holiday season more bearable.

Written by Blog Contributor: Jennifer Hicks