Holidays and family naturally go together. After the loss of a loved one, facing a holiday is often a difficult time, but there are ways to survive.

Don’t ignore your grief, how can you? It’s always with you, especially during the holidays where so many happy memories are kept, says Janice Smallwood who with her husband J.D. own and operate Norberg Memorial Home, Inc. and Monuments.

Continue to spend time with trusted family and friends, says Psychology Today. Try to steer clear of situations where you know there will be conflict. You are still vulnerable. When celebrating holidays with others, say a prayer or share a favorite story about your loved one, says Ask others to share their favorite stories, as well.

Try to stick to your normal routine, whether it’s work, exercise, or social activities, adds Psychology Today. Whether you have lost a loved one or not, if you expect to be alone on a holiday, reach out to others. They may include you in their plans, or you can make plans together or create a new holiday tradition. Use the holidays to get closer to friends and relatives, which can carry on throughout the coming years, says Janice.

Volunteer during the holidays for those in need, whether it’s at church, spending time with children in a group setting or with the elderly, adds Psychology Today. Volunteering not only benefits others who may be alone or hurting, but it may also give you a new perspective. I have found that volunteering makes me realize not my losses, but how fortunate I have been in my life to have loved so many. Volunteering can be a very rewarding and humbling experience. Holidays are meant to bring people together, if you don’t have the finances to assist a family, donate your time. Ask your family to donate their time with you and create new traditions and memories, says Janice.

There is no wrong way to grieve, I read something the other day that said “I sat with my anger long enough, until she told me her real name was grief.” The holidays are hard even if you aren’t grieving. So remember to be kind, you never know what someone else is going through.

At the beginning of every year, I use a Mason jar and small note pad that I keep on my counter. Whenever I do something fun or have a good day, I’ll write down the date and describe what I did and who I did it with. I then fold up the note and drop it into the Mason jar. On New Year’s Eve, I’ll open the jar and read all the wonderful things that the past year has brought into my life. Once read, I’ll put them into a plastic bag and write the year on the bag and store them in a box. If I am having a difficult or sad day I will open the box, pick a year and read and reminisce about all the wonderful things I did. It’s easy to remember the hurt, try and focus on the positive, says Janice.

Norberg Memorial Home, Inc. & Monuments

701 E Thompson Street, Princeton, IL 61356