Grief is an emotionally tough experience that hits everyone differently. The holidays can make it especially arduous. The season’s expectations are for gaiety, get-togethers, and traditions. The passing of a loved one is a huge adjustment and going through the holidays for the first time without them means that most things will be very different. The season of grief may be difficult no matter what you do or where you go.
Without making lite of your pain, below are some ideas that may help you through the holiday season.
Start New Traditions.
Changing slightly or completely remaking how you celebrate may ease the pain of repeating old traditions without your loved one. New rituals may help to heal your loss and build new depth of relations with other family members and friends.
Be OK with saying “No.”
Set limits for yourself. Grief takes a great deal of energy. I’ve found it’s better to wade through the feelings of sadness rather than push them away, but doing so takes emotional energy which may be at a low during the holidays. It’s okay to decline to be at every social opportunity. Allow yourself to be selective. Say yes to the situations that will be less overwhelming. This year for me, the sending out of the traditional picture card and the annual letter was too difficult. I didn’t want to write about our loss, so I allowed myself the freedom of only sending a pre-made card. It was okay.
On the flip side of saying ‘no,’ don’t allow yourself complete isolation. Get up, get dressed, and get out of the house. Stay engaged with the world and people in it but on your terms. There will be a day when you’ll have to force yourself to go out, but likewise, there will be a day where you’ll look forward to going out. Find the balance.
Practice saying “I’m lonely” or “Today’s just a rough day, I’ll be fine tomorrow.” It’s ok to laugh. It’s also ok to talk about your loved one and the great memories. Others will want to help or be eager to fix your grief, simply be aware that they care about you and they mean well no matter how annoying it may feel!
Do something special to remember your loved one. Plant a tree, buy a special ornament to hang on the tree or do something in honor of them. My friend called me the ‘turtle lady’ because any time we were near the water in the islands, turtles showed up. I purchased a turtle earring and wear it in his honor. It may not be the traditional thing to do, but it works for me—I see it every time I look in the mirror.
The bottom line is this: Grief is rough. Our loved one(s) wouldn’t want us to remain sad. Every loss is different so that every healing will be different. If you need help, seek it. Care as much about yourself as you do your angel. The heart can be a very tender warrior. Stay the course; healing doesn’t have a stop-clock or calendar.
This post was originally published on Huffington Post and is republished here with the author’s permission.
Photo credit: DepositPhoto