First Holidays After A Loss

Everyone says that the first year after losing a loved one is hard, and all the "firsts" are definitely proving to be big triggers for emotions. For me, it seems that the anticipation of a holiday ends up being worse than the actual holiday. The "first" Thanksgiving, the "first birthday, and the "first" Christmas without your loved one there will be the hardest. The week leading up to Thanksgiving was roller coaster of emotions. The few days before her birthday, December 13th, I was introverted and reflective. I tried to hold in my emotions and continue to go on with my life that day, but my face ended up exploding in tears that night as I blew out her birthday memorial candle. Now, with Christmas just around the corner, I have made plans to change our normal Christmas morning routine, and plan on trying to avoid anything and everything that may send me into an emotional spiral of grief on that day,

But is that what I should be doing? There is no right way or wrong way to grieve, but allowing yourself to feel is healthy. I have learned the hard way that locking in and pushing your feelings aside only bottles them up for a later, and greater release. So what is a good compromise for Christmas? How can I allow myself to grieve her absence from the present holiday, but still make good memories with my living loved ones to look back on and cherish down the road?