Whether it’s your first holiday or your tenth without your beloved parent, know it will be difficult. Give yourself permission to take time for yourself if you need it. It’s okay to leave a party early or spend an entire day binging on a netflix series if it makes you feel good. But don’t feel guilty about having fun. Just because you make the effort to enjoy the people currently in your life doesn’t mean you forgot about those who are not. Remind yourself often not to feel guilty moving on with your life. It’s important to do so and what they would want for you.

The new normal

Life is forever changed when a loved one passes – that’s something over which we have no control. We can only control our response. Create loving, happy memories this holiday season, whichever holiday and however you choose to celebrate. Focus on those who love and support you and are with you right now. Each member of my immediate family will light all the candles in our own menorahs this year, which are already in place on the dining room table in front of a window. We may not have a big party with a latke competition, but we will joyfully make a variety of latkes using my mother-in-law’s favorite recipes. We plan to find meaningful volunteer opportunities in which to participate together. While we continue with some of our family traditions, we may also begin some new ones to pass on to the next generation.

Throughout the season, we will share stories and celebrate how lucky we were to have our moms with us for as long as we did, knowing they are still with us in spirit.

What do you do to get through the holidays? Please help others by sharing your thoughts in the comments below.