Family and togetherness are key themes for the holidays. That can make the holidays difficult for people grieving the loss of a loved one. Although grief is nearly universal, it expresses itself in many different ways. Sometimes it resembles major depression with frequent crying spells, sleep disturbances, and loss of appetite. Grief isn’t a tidy, orderly process, and there’s no right way to grieve. It’s constantly evolving, and at times the feelings seem out of our control. Every person and family grieves differently. Grief can cause emotions to collide and overlap, especially during the holiday season when the emphasis is on rebirth and renewal.
Set Boundaries With Holiday Events
You can participate or not participate in whatever feels suitable for you. While there may be pressure to attend a holiday party or family gathering, remember to check in with your wants and needs to identify your readiness. It may be helpful to commit to something that sounds fun while reminding yourself that you don’t have to stay the whole time. It’s also okay to opt out of certain things altogether. Pushing yourself to do too much too soon may cause you to feel worse. Finding a balance between engaging and not pushing yourself is essential.
Tune Into Your Grief Emotions
Grief doesn’t take a back seat during the holidays and can often be magnified. It’s vital to acknowledge your feelings and not avoid them. You may experience both negative and positive emotions during the holidays while grieving, and that’s okay. Be kind to yourself and remember that all feelings can coexist. For example, you can miss that person and enjoy the holidays simultaneously. It may be tempting to numb your emotions with drugs or alcohol during the holidays. Anticipating the problematic emotions and preparing ahead of time will help prevent negative consequences from happening.
Plan Ahead to Fill Empty Holiday Roles
The holidays usually involve everyone coming together and filling a specific role. Loss often means that someone must fill particular positions. It’s essential to think ahead, especially with children, to consider who will fill these vacated roles. For example, if grandpa always dressed up as Santa for the kids, plan to see who can replace him. If Aunt Sally always cut the turkey, think about who you would want to replace her role. Planning ahead can avoid unnecessary moments of grief and can help make the experience more fluid and enjoyable.
Honor Old Traditions and Memories
The holidays are a time for traditions and making memories. Decorating the tree with your grandma or making cookies are two of the most popular holiday traditions. It can be hard to carry on with those traditions when a loved one dies because it doesn’t feel the same without them there. Still, it can be helpful to continue with old traditions that existed to honor and celebrate those who are no longer here. Honoring old memories is a practical way to keep their memory present. Our loved ones wouldn’t want us to stop the traditions because they’re gone.
Identify Grief Coping Skills
Grief is a tricky emotion; you can find yourself feeling fine, then in an instant, you feel like the world is crashing down around you. The holidays can only exasperate the grieving process, especially if your loved one died recently. Before starting the holiday season or whenever it’s appropriate for you, consider creating a list of go-to coping skills to use whether you’re at home or a social function. It will be handy when the grief hits you unexpectedly. Examples of coping skills are deep breathing, walking, journaling, or listening to music.
Create New Traditions
Traditions are an essential part of the holidays. With the death of a loved one, participating in traditions can make you feel guilty. On top of that, starting new traditions can make you feel like you’re erasing the memory of your loved one. However, creating new traditions can heal people who are grieving. Making new memories doesn’t erase the old ones. Remember, your loved one will want you to enjoy the holidays. They wouldn’t want you to wallow in the sadness of missing them. It would be best to acknowledge, validate, and challenge any feelings of guilt that may come up in the process.
Ask For Help
Losing a loved one is hard on anyone, and we all try our best to grieve appropriately. If you’ve been attempting other grief coping mechanisms and feel like they’re not working, it may be time to consider asking for help. It’s essential to seek support from friends, family, coworkers, and professionals if needed. Whether you’ve lost someone close to you or not, the holidays can bring up lots of complicated feelings. It’s completely normal and can be helpful to seek services from a therapist or psychologist. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help if you need it.
Losing a loved one is a hard time in anyone’s life. It can be challenging to deal with during the holiday season. You may feel like the holiday season will never be the same without them and feel guilty for trying to enjoy yourself.However, we must remember that our loved one is in the best place that they can be: at home with the Lord. They’re in heaven looking down on us, and they would want us to enjoy the holiday season, not sit in sadness about them no longer being here.
The holiday season isn’t always as merry as we want it to be when you’re grieving. It’s normal to feel apprehensive about it, and you’re not alone in feeling that way. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to approach the holiday season after losing a loved one. If you experience happiness, allow it to enter your grief space and be present with the people around you. Instead of grieving the loss of your loved one, cherish the memories you made with them on earth. Be kind to yourself and try to take it one-holiday party and one feeling at a time.