As the busy holiday season approaches, those who have recently experienced a loss are likely dreading the traditions they formally enjoyed with their deceased loved one. This holiday season will not be like years past, and that’s okay. The roles that your loved one use to play will have to be filled by someone else or left unfilled. This can be a harsh reality to face, but you need to remember that it’s okay to feel sad during this time.

Gathering as a family for the first time without your loved one can bring on strong feelings of grief and even depression. These feelings are all legitimate and need to be acknowledged. If you think this holiday season might be a tough one, be sure to not take on too much responsibility. Talk with other family members and divide the workload according to everyone’s emotional capacity. If no one is feeling up to cooking the turkey or making some dish that’s normally a family favorite, don’t feel obligated to volunteer. It’s okay to make a few adjustments here and there to accommodate everyone’s needs.

During this gathering, it might be tempting to ignore the loss and focus on more positive aspects of the day. However, acknowledging the loss, even if it’s very briefly, can help everyone process what happened and even give the family a sense of unity and mutual support.

One great way to do this is to create a new tradition that honors your lost loved one. Bringing fresh flowers to the grave site, playing an honorary baseball game, giving a special toast before eating, or even just lighting a candle are all great ways to honor and remember your loved one for many years to come.

This first year won’t be easy, but know that each coming year will get easier and easier. Remember and be thankful for the times you had with your loved one and do your best to create more memories with the loved ones around you this year.