Managing Grief during the Holiday Season
C. S Lewis once said that bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love... I don’t know about you but that’s a part of love I wish I had not experienced!
I struggle to find the word to describe the holiday season for my family as we lost our father during this time of year. While others were celebrating the season, we were mourning the loss of someone who had such an impact on our lives.
What I have learned about this process and yes, it is a process, of grief during the holidays is that we are all unique in the way we grieve. The holidays and the way we celebrate has changed for us. Within our celebration there is grief and you know what, that is okay.
I have learned that we must embrace our grief. Embrace grief?? Yes, we grieve because we have loved, been loved and continue to love. Below are a few tips that have helped our family navigate this journey during the holidays.
Honoring Traditions and Memories
When we continue with traditions it can help us to honor and celebrate the person that who is no longer with us. I think for most of us we fear forgetting, forgetting what they look like, their scent, those little quirks that made them who they were. Revisiting traditions and memories assist us in not forgetting. Some of our favorite things to do is to deck out our dad’s grave site in Ohio State décor as he was a big fan. We spend time telling stories and yes, we allow ourselves to cry but we also find ourselves laughing.
Remember it is okay to say no. If you do choose to attend, please remember to give yourself permission to leave if needed. Holiday Events can assist us in getting out and redirecting our thoughts and feelings so if you can, choose happy, fun events.
Grief normally does not take a back seat during the holidays and to be honest it can intensify. It is important to acknowledge the emotion/feeling and not avoid it. You may experience both negative and positive feelings during the holidays while grieving and that is okay. Be kind to yourself and remember that all feelings can coexist.
For example, I can miss that person and enjoy the holiday at the same time. Please be mindful to not use negative coping skills such as alcohol or other drugs to numb your feelings. Anticipating the difficult emotions and having a plan of attack will help prevent negative consequences from occurring. For some the holiday season is not so merry as maybe we would like. It is normal to feel apprehensive as we approach this season.
At the end of the day all remember to be kind to yourself and extend yourself some grace. Remember this is a journey and some are just beginning the journey and others are somewhere in between but regardless there is always love.