The holidays are exciting, and at times overwhelming. Grief can come about more powerful during the holidays than at an uneventful time. These special times can remind you of the absence of your past loved ones, while performing the rituals this time of year can strum up the pain along with them. Use this time of year to lean in on family and friends, focusing on recapturing the joy and honoring your loved one. Keeping in mind these helpful tips to help you during your grief and the holiday season.
- Accept your feelings – whatever those might be. There is no time limit to mourning, It’s in ones individual time that the feelings can be healed. Some may try to avoid the feelings all together, others immerse themselves in their pain to acknowledge the person they lost and try to feel less guilty for those times when they are happy. It is important to accept the ups and downs. Feeling the overwhelmingly sadness, and then feeling peace can be so confusing. Staying in tune with your truest self will be the best way to get through the holiday without judging yourself.
- Do what feels right for you. Allow yourself to say no to normal activities, if it’s something you feel you cannot handle. You are not obligated to participate in anything that doesn’t feel manageable and your vulnerability is very real. Get through one week at a time, and try not to think beyond that.
- Plan Ahead. The unknown can cause anticipation worse than the actual event. Making sure to create comforting activities for the time approaching so that there is something to look forward to rather than the dread of the pain the holidays brings. New activity leaves new opportunities for painless memories, but familiar traditions are comforting as well. It’s up to you to keep yourself around the positive.
- It sounds simple. Because it is. It’s amazing how in times of overwhelming grief, sometimes the biggest comfort is giving to others. You can feel paralyzed by sheer emotion, sadness, feeling lost or helpless and sometimes the answer is to make a difference.
- Purchasing something that symbolizes your loved lost one can be a beautiful gesture to the person you love. Or donating to a needy family in their name to a charity they loved. A living reminder.
- Volunteer work can be another way to show homage to your fallen family. Being involved in a charity or cause that was involved in anguish is one of the best ways to feel like you have made a difference for someone else.
- Gift giving can be hard, maybe if you consider shopping online you will be less overwhelmed by seeing gifts that would be perfect for the one who’s no longer around.
- Avoidance can make the ones left behind feel guilty, like they should not be able to enjoy the things they once did before. You can light a candle, talk about them with people who never knew them, plant a tree, or putting their picture up near holiday decorations. So you can show yourself that they were important and they are still apart of your life.
- Try something new. Knowing things have changed and will not be the same as they ever were before can be hard. Accepting this and changing the traditions sometimes can be a cleansing experience. Go to a new location for celebration, change the menu, invite new friends over or volunteer. The important thing is so make new memories. Some families return to old routines after trying something new, but some still enjoy incorporating new experiences.
- Focus on the children. Holidays are so much more enjoyable when you are focusing on the children in your life are experiencing these holidays in their young lives. Watching their joy in such a special time in their life can help you remember what this time of year is about. You are allowed to step back when you reach your limit.
- Allow yourself to call on family. Tell those close to you how you feel, be honest how you’d like to celebrate, or not celebrate. If you’d like to speak about them then do so, and let others know it’s ok to speak about them too. Take someone with you to events and create an escape plan. If you need to leave early and quickly you are prepared. Find support groups or professional support and stay in touch with people who can help you during your grief.
- Scale back. If participating at all feels like its going to be too painful, overwhelming or just not possible at all. Cut back. Less décor, E-cards for holiday cards, limit the holiday parties and only spend time with the closest friends and family. Your safety and comfort come first be gentle with your delicate self.
- Skip it. If it’s simply too much, it’s too much. Let your friends and family know. Make your own plans, alternate comforting plans and let someone know so that they may be able to check in on you.
Try to celebrate as much as your grieving heart will allow. And if you can’t that is completely acceptable. Allow yourself to grieve but also to recover.
Also published on Medium.