For many, the holidays are a time of joy spent with family and friends. A time of being social, shopping, baking and decorating, and or hosting and attending parties and festivities. But for those who are grieving a loss, the holidays can be anything but joyful. Instead, the holidays often bring a feeling of sadness and loneliness, and seeing others celebrate can be painful.
If you are grieving this holiday, please remember there is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays. Here are some tips if you need them:
· Communicate to others what your needs and limitations are and allow others to help you. If you usually cook or host and aren’t up to it this year, allow another family member to take over this year.
· Spend the holidays doing what feels right to you and your family. Traditions can be a wonderful way to remember and honor a loved one, or it can be painful. Some find it to be healing to create new traditions. If new traditions bring up feelings of guilt, recognize and validate those feelings and continue on. Remember, just because you feel guilty, doesn’t mean you are guilty.
· If you have children, understand that their grieving may look different than adult grieving. Be patient and provide support and foster an open and safe space for communication.
· Don’t avoid your grief – allow yourself to feel and process those feelings and remember that grief and joy can coexist! You can miss a loved one and enjoy the holiday at the same time. If you feel happiness, allow that feeling, as well! Experiencing joy and laughter does not mean you have forgotten your loved one.
· Practice coping skills so that when grief pops up unexpectedly, you can be prepared. Some coping skills include deep breathing, going to a quiet place to meditate, journaling, taking a walk or doing yoga, listening to music, or saying positive affirmations.
· Bereavement Support Groups and or therapy can offer a safe space to be seen and understood, to express your feelings, and to learn healthy ways to cope and work towards healing.
If you are grieving, we hope that you are able to find some joy during the holiday season and if you find yourself struggling, to reach out and get some support.