How To Endure The Holidays While Grieving
You can endure the shadow of grief during the holidays to make it through to the other side.
My younger brother died suddenly in July, 1997.
Even though it has been over 20 years since his death, hardly a day goes by without me thinking of him.
Has is gotten easier? Well, anyone who has ever lost a loved one will tell you time does not heal all wounds —especially the trauma of grief.
In the best of circumstances, you just learn to manage the pain so you can attempt to move on. Some days the hurt and sorrow fade into the background, almost imperceptible. On other days, it comes back roaring like a lion, clawing and ripping open anew psychic wounds.
The holiday season is especially difficult to cope with while grieving. Hearing excited colleagues and friends making holidays plans, seeing festive decorations everywhere, and listening to holiday-themed music can seem like torture.
If you are thinking there is no way you can bear the holiday season while dealing with your loss, these following strategies may help.
Do Not Judge Yourself Or Your Feelings
There is no “right” way to grieve. Grief affects us all differently and the way we process it is just as varied. One minute you may feel joyous and hopeful, then angry or sad the next. This is normal, so please do not judge yourself or your feelings. You are healing.
Feel Free To Be As Social Or Asocial As You Need To Be
Parties and celebrations are an intrinsic part of the holidays. Permit yourself to participate in these activities as much or as little as you wish.
Often the prospect of attending these events are not as bad as the actual experience — especially if you are surrounded by friends and family. The festive atmosphere may lift your spirits and brighten your heart.
If you do decide to attend holiday functions, here is a great tip: drive yourself so if you begin to feel overwhelmed, you can “escape” when you are ready.
However, if you can not bear the thought of holiday celebrations, it is okay to say no and decline invitations. Setting healthy boundaries is essential while you are grieving.
Do what is best for you in every circumstance.
Talk To Someone
You are not alone. Many people experience a groundswell of sorrow and depression during the holiday season.
This is why it is essential not to bottle up your feelings. If you are feeling isolated, alone, or consumed by your grief, seek out the counsel of a trusted family member, friend, or the services of a qualified therapist in your community.
Honor Your Loved One
Celebrating cherished memories of the one you lost is a beautiful way to memorialize them in your life. It also serves as a reminder of the irrevocable place they have in your heart. Honor and remember them during the holidays by watching a movie, eating a meal, visiting a locale, or engaging in an activity they were fond of and that brought them pleasure.
Giving to others is a perfect way refocus your energy, time, and talents in a positive, rewarding way. Donating gifts to needy families or supporting a charity or non-profit you are passionate about are perfect ways to give back.
Opportunities to volunteer also abound. Online sites like VolunteerMatch are terrific resources which can recommend a variety of volunteer opportunities in your local area.
Being kind and giving back to others is life-affirming and buoys the soul like nothing else.
Cherish Your Personal Time
We know even though we are grieving, life must go on. Your responsibilities to your family, job, or career continue.
In the shadow of grief, neglecting your responsibility to yourself while attending to life’s demands, especially during the hectic holiday season, can be an unhealthy trap to fall into.
It is crucial to set aside time to spend on yourself.
Whether it is maintaining your exercise routine, pursuing a hobby, reading, keeping a journal, taking naps, visiting friends, etc., making self-care a high-priority is the safety valve you need to release stress and to maintain your mental and emotional well-being.
The holidays can be an extremely difficult time to endure when you are grieving. But you can make it through to the other side by remembering to be kind and gentle with yourself, knowing each day you greet is a precious victory.