Grief itself is a complicated and confusing process… And if you are someone who has experienced loss, the holiday season can often intensify the already very present feelings of confusion, sadness, emptiness and longing. Holidays can feel conflicting as there is so much cheer and celebration around you and a pressure and perhaps a yearning to feel joy, gratitude, togetherness and love when what you feel instead, is dread. If you or someone you know is grieving through the holidays, here are some helpful tips that may bring some ease and comfort to this time.
Find Ways To Celebrate Your Loved Ones:
This could be by listening to your loved one’s favorite holiday song, making their favorite dessert or lighting a candle as a way to remember them. Although they may be gone, your love for them and the memories that you made together will always remain.
Allow Yourself To Feel A Range Of Emotions:
The holidays can be stressful as it is, but when you are grieving during the holidays, emotions can be heightened. It is important to acknowledge what you are feeling and not avoid it. Both positive and negative emotions can exist and it is OK to feel both (without guilt) during the holiday season. Take the emotions on as they come. It may be helpful to have an exit strategy or identify coping skills that you know work for you when things feel too challenging or overwhelming. Some examples include deep breathing, journaling, gentle stretching, taking a break or using positive self-talk.
Setting your boundaries and understanding your limits is essential. Remind yourself that you do not have to force yourself to engage in every holiday activity and event if it feels too overwhelming or painful. Remember that at any point while at an event or engaging in an activity, you can leave or take a break if it becomes too much for you.
Honor Old Traditions That Include Your Loved One:
It can be helpful and even comforting to continue with traditions that included your loved one. This is a good way to keep their memory present and have a designated space to remember them, to honor them and to talk about them.
Support can look different to everyone. It is completely normal to need the support of others-Whether that be family, friends, professionals or even a grief support group. When you have experienced a significant loss, it is important to communicate feelings and needs regularly and often to those around you.