-Mayah Taylor, MA
The holidays can be some of the most challenging times of year for anyone who has suffered a loss whether it be a loved one or cherished pet. People often seek help, in the form of therapy, right around the Thanksgiving season. Festive decorations, music, holiday parties are all a painful reminder of our loss. The holidays also have a symbolic marking of the passage of time and represent memorable moments spent with our families.This can be especially difficult for those who have lost a loved one either recently or in the past. As we are quickly approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas, those struggling with the passing of a loved one can already be experiencing emotions of sadness, loneliness, pain, and hurt. These emotions felt may be felt ten times more than normal due to the holiday effect which often magnifies the loss. If you are wondering how to deal with grief this holiday season, these strategies can help.
It’s important not to try to avoid or hide from the grief you are experiencing or the memory of your loved one. During this time of year, acknowledge how you are truly feeling. Be present with you emotions and that this is a difficult time for you. Also, be sure to take the time to honor and remember your loved one. Sometimes this can help the grieving process and promote healing. This can even be done with your friends and family who can give you support as you remember a loved one if you prefer. This can allow time for sharing of fond memories of your loved, what they meant to you, and can even give you an opportunity to look through old photographs while doing so. Find your own special way to cherish the memory of your loved one.
After the loss of a loved one, you may find that going forward through the holidays your way of celebrating may change from what you had previously done. It can be helpful during this time of year to think about a change in focus of your celebration. Start with thinking about why you celebrate a particular holiday and what its significance is in your life. Doing this, can give holiday traditions a new depth of meaning.
Self-care is of the utmost importance during the grieving process but also in daily life. Being in good practice of self-care can help maximize your ability to be able to emotionally cope as the holiday season kicks into gear. Each person’s self care plan may look different from the next but it is important that there is an active self care plan in place. Examples of healthy self care activities can be meditating each morning, getting a massage, ensuring good nutrition, and getting proper rest and exercise. Find the self care plan that works for you and fits your needs. Remember to stay consistent and in good practice of your self care plan.
It’s okay if you don’t feel up to attending all of the events offered during the holiday season. Attempting to attend every single event may leave you overwhelmed at times and can be detrimental to your healing when you are grieving. Do try to remain socially connected in some form as you are comfortable. Pick and choose the events and things that you are ready to participate in. Communicate with others about the events or traditions that you feel you need to “take a break” from in order to heal. Whatever you do, do not shut yourself off completely from people. It’s important to maintain strong support systems even when faced with grief.
The grieving process shouldn’t be done alone. Reaching out to family and friends for support and help during this time of year when grieving is very difficult can be a positive step. You may even find your family and friends reaching out to you to lend their help, love, and support. It is ok to accept their help and it is encouraged to take them up on their offers. If you are finding it difficult to manage in your day to day activities, you may find it helpful to see a mental health therapist, participate in a grief support group, talk to your doctor, or another health professional for support.
The holiday season is a tough time for those who have suffered loss. Using the tips we have given you in this blog can help set you on the path to healing and getting through this holiday season. Our tips can even help you reshape how you celebrate the holidays to include the memory of your loved one and give deeper meaning to the holidays for you and your family. As always you are never alone and support can always be found with doctors, mental health therapists, support groups and other health professionals waiting to help you navigate through your grief to health and wellness. Let us know how you deal with grief during the holidays by leaving a comment below.