Family and togetherness are hallmarks of the holidays. But what is a happy time for many can be especially painful for anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one. Singing carols, shared meals, and shopping for gifts can be more subdued at this time.
Is your grief fresh?
If your grief is fresh, holiday cheer can seem like an insult. Holidays may underscore how alone you feel.
Although grief is universal – everyone experiences it from animals to humans – the way in which one experiences it can be vastly different from person to person. Grief can sometimes resemble Major Depression from crying spells, loss of appetite, sleep disturbance, depressed mood.
Grief is not tidy; it’s not evenly spaced or broken down into timely stages or passages we walk through; it is messy. It is taking one step forward and falling three steps backward. It is determining to live one moment at a time. The good news is, you will get through it!
Here are some strategies that may help you or someone you know cope with grief this holiday season:
during dinner say a few kind words of remembrance or leave a chair empty at the dinner table.
go out to dinner with your friends or schedule a trip with your friends. Ski country is great this time of year!
people who are grieving may find it hard to participate in the festivities. It is all right to tell your family that you are not up for it or to change plans last minute
Volunteer at a non-profit or charitable organization. Make a donation to a favorite cause in memory of the person who died.
Depending on the strength of the connection, grief can be life-long. But grief will soften or change over time. The holidays will get easier.
Grief does not conclude at the six-month or one-year anniversary.
The holidays can be especially tough for those of us who are grieving a loved one. Take the time to be kind to yourself and try a few of the strategies above. If you would like to learn more tips on how to manage your expectations and stress during the holidays, click here.