The holidays can be such a fun and joyous time for some of us that it is easy to forget that for some the holidays are a really hard time. I have several clients that are facing the upcoming holidays while mourning the loss of a a loved one and I know they are not alone. For those that are grieving the holidays can be a really difficult time. Things that once were fun and heartwarming traditions are now filled with painful memories of the person who is no longer here to share them. Plus, seeing everyone around you celebrating happily can be a painful reminder of your loss.
If you find yourself facing this holiday season while mourning the loss of someone you love I know that nothing I write in this post can take away your pain or make the holiday season easier for you. However, I would like to offer some suggestions for coping with this time of year amidst the pain of your loss:
-Feel free to do things differently this year. Many people who are facing grief feel like they need to do things exactly the same as they have in years past. If they don’t it feels like they aren’t honoring their loved one and/or aren’t healing “properly”. Changing things up during the holidays doesn’t mean you don’t want to remember the person you have lost, it simply means that doing something a certain way is too painful and that’s OK. On the same note, if doing things exactly the same is a comfort to you go for it, you know what you are capable of during this time of grief, don’t doubt yourself.
-Know that everyone grieves differently and at a different pace. There is no one way to grieve a loved one. It may be easy for those on the outside to think that you should be feeling or doing certain things. Maybe that is how they grieved their loved one. However, what works for one person may not work for another. Give yourself the freedom to experience in the way that is most healing for you.
-Don’t run from your grief. It is painful, it is exhausting, and it is overwhelming at times (or all the time!) but please don’t push your grief away or run from it. This will only make it worse for you in the long run. The only way to not get stuck in grief is to allow yourself to experience the emotions as they come and to take time to work through them.
-Find a way to remember your loved one. It may be something simple like writing them a letter to let them know how much you are missing them, maybe it is making their favorite holiday food. But taking time to remember and honor your loved one during this time can be very healing. I know many churches offer remembrance services during this time of year. For those who are ready, I think this can be a very healing experience.
-Surround yourself with people you love, but feel free to take time to yourself as well. Know that you are not alone in this loss, even if it feels like it at times. There are people around you who want to love and comfort you. Likely, some of them are mourning the loss of the same person you are. Allow them to be present with you in this time of grief; it sometimes helps to know we are not alone. However, bear in mind that if you need some time alone to process your grief that is ok too. Again, grief looks different for everyone.
-Seek help. If you feel that your grief is too overwhelming this holiday season please give us a call. We would be honored to walk along side you in your journey of healing.
If you know someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one this holiday I would like to encourage you to be supportive and understanding. Being willing to be with that person when they need a shoulder to cry on and being willing to give them space when they need it. Invite them to holiday functions, but be understanding if they are not up for attending. Simply be willing to meet them where they are at in their grief and love them as best you can.