by Laura Dickman, BSW Intern
Holidays are a time of joy and cheer spent with those you love. However, for families that have lost loved ones it is also a time of year of remembrance and overwhelming feelings even. One important note made by professionals about grieving during the holidays is that there is not a “right way” to grieve or feel those feelings you may have.
It is important to remember this as we transition into the holiday season because there is a lot of idealism around forming the perfect Christmas memories. However, there is actually no pressure to do this and the only person making you feel you need a perfect holiday may be only you. Holidays come every year and we will each have countless holidays in our lifetimes. It is okay to take a break or a pause from holidays for a year if you feel it is too much for you to take on when considering your well-being.
According to the website “Love to Know”, there are several tips for getting through the holidays while grieving:
Hold memories of service
Singing a few special holiday songs
Light a candle in memory of a loved one
Hold a moment of silence
Hold a religious gathering in memory of a loved one
Create New Family Traditions
Put up a stocking with the person’s name on it
Place flowers/ toys at a child’s headrest
Make a toy donation in his/ her name
Buy a special ornament to add to your tree
Take a year off
It is okay to not do things regularly the first year(s)
Take long walks
Spend time with someone who would be alone for the holidays
Give to causes your loved one cherished
The Psychology Group on Youtube suggests in “How to Cope with Grief During the Holidays”:
Set boundaries for yourself
Understand you can opt out of events or stay for only part of the time at the event
Tune into your emotions
It is important to acknowledge feelings
It is okay to feel happy or sad
Be aware of how numbing with substances would affect you
Avoid certain feelings of uncomfortability by planning ahead and possibly making changes to the schedule of regular holiday events
Create new traditions
Identify coping skills
What can you use at dinner or out with a friend to cope with triggers?
Ask for help
It is always okay and even encouraged to ask for help during these challenging times
Do not be afraid to seek professional mental help if you are feeling too overwhelmed by these challenging feelings.
Overall, there are several key tools you can use during the holidays to cope with grieving. Clinicians at Graceful Therapy LLC encourage you to seek professional mental help if you are feeling you may need additional support during the holidays.