The Holidays are often referenced as the most wonderful time of year. According to all the holiday movies out there, this time of year allows us to magically handle situations with ease and our days are to be filled with joy, peace, social connections, and romantic moments. Often this sets us up for unrealistic expectations and leads to disappointment and sadness when we get caught up in comparing our experiences to those of others. This is especially true for people dealing with the loss of a loved one. The holidays are difficult when we are overwhelmed by grief, no matter how long ago the loss was experienced.
It is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Everyone handles grief differently. It is important to remember to be kind and patient with yourself and others. Here are a few tips to cope with grief during the holidays
Decide how you want to spend your time. Identify triggers that may upset you and mentally prepare yourself for the next few weeks. Be flexible with plans and obligations – recognize when you will need to say “no”. Make a plan for what holiday events you will attend. Schedule additional time for self-care, sleep, exercise, and healthy eating. Planning ahead will help you stay on track with your schedule if intense or difficult emotions surface.
Feel the Feelings
When dealing with something as complex as grief, it is difficult to repress your feelings during the holidays. Make and take space for all of your feelings such as sadness, disappointment, anger, guilt, and any other emotions that may surface. Sharing your feelings may be a way of connecting with others. Family members and friends will appreciate you being open and you won’t be alone with your feelings.
Create new tradition
Create new traditions or rituals in a loved one’s memory. Honor the traditions cherished by the lost loved one and share memories about them. Modify these traditions with a focus on the meaning of them.
Honor your loved one
Losing someone doesn’t mean you have to forget them and the experiences you have shared. You can honor your loved one by making a special tree with each family member choosing an ornament that reminds them of the family member. You can also keep a candle lit in your loved one’s memory all holiday season or you can choose a charity to honor in your loved one’s memory.
Schedule a time for your family and friends to share their favorite memories of your loved one. Spend time looking at photo albums and home videos. Tell favorite memories and stories from the past.
Set realistic expectations for yourself and others. Accept the holiday experience will be different this year. Attempt to surround yourself with as much support, love, compassion and understanding as possible. Give yourself permission to experience happiness and connection with others. Be kind with yourself and know when you need time alone to cry it out. If you feel that you are having difficulty coping and need additional help, please click here to find out additional information about our Services.