by Hannah Biggs, LSW
The holiday season can bring joy and time with family and friends, but it can also bring feelings of depression, anger, and memories of loved ones who are no longer with us. Grief during the holidays serves as a reminder of what and who we miss the most.
When dealing with a significant loss, the most important thing to remember is to take care of yourself. Remember to listen to your needs, utilize self care strategies, and consider ways to honor the life of a loved one. It is also healthy and important to choose not to do things that increase your suffering, to set boundaries, and to change traditions if that feels like the path you need to take.
Be gentle with yourself.
Allow yourself the time to deal with the difficult feelings of whatever you may be grieving - losing a loved one, experiencing divorce, saying goodbye to a pet, moving, going through a life change, loss of support, etc. Permit yourself to be accepting of the process and offer yourself compassion throughout this difficult time.
Reach out for support
Be open and honest with your support network regarding how you are feeling about your grief. When we battle our grief alone and internalize pain, it can manifest as anger, resentment, guilt, and shame. Utilizing a supportive ear or shoulder to lean on is one way to avoid isolating and help manage the grieving process.
Allow yourself time to feel your feelings.
Giving yourself the space to honor your feelings is an essential part of the grieving process. This requires patience and can provide meaning, healing, and acceptance. This might also mean lowering expectations this holiday season or avoiding social media. You don’t have to pretend everything is fine.
Don't rush the grieving process.
Grief has no timeline. Grant yourself the right to let out your feelings and thoughts about the impact grief has had on your life. Often we fear we are not doing all we should or handling change the “right” way, when really there is no such thing. We should not expect to move past our QA as in a specific timeframe
Find ways to honor the past
Continuing family traditions or creating new ones are positive ways to celebrate the life of your loved one or what mattered to you about your past during the holiday season. Lighting a candle in remembrance, making a favorite dish, or volunteering in someone’s honor can add a sense of peace and contentment. Share memories, tell stories and talk about the impact your loved one had on your life with trusted friends and family. If it feels difficult to verbalize what you are thinking or feeling, take a few minutes to journal. Writing our emotions is immensely healing.
If you are experiencing grief and need support this holiday season, don’t hesitate to reach out to get scheduled or for more information.