The holiday season is fast approaching and with the holidays comes spending quality time with family and friends. But for many, this is a painful time. The festivities and extra of the season is a blaring reminder of loved ones lost. Traditions and memories become reminders of loss triggering grief as if the loss occurred that day. A reminder of a void that cannot be filled. It can be an extreme time of heartache and loneliness. This season starts the seasonal retreat into the darkness and hell of one's isolation and loneliness. The pull of depression becomes harder and harder to resist. As the days get shorter and night get colder it becomes harder and hard to get out of the house let alone the bed. Sadness so heavy you just want it to stop. Know that you are not alone. It can be hard navigating this time, putting on a smiling face when deep down you want to curl up and cry. Here are some tips to help you manage the waves of emotions that may arise during this holiday season.
10 Tips to Manage Grief During the Holidays
Self-care has become a catchphrase with people not really grasping the concept. Self-care is not going to get a mani-pedi and a massage. While that can be a form of self-care, self-care also means taking care of your emotional health. Caring for your emotional health includes maybe taking a personal day off work, seeking professional help in the form of a mental health professional, joining a grief support group.
2. Resist the urge to isolate:
Connection is important in healing. We are wired for connection. When we have the urge to isolate it is typically when we need people the most. When you isolate yourself from others you begin to feel more lonely. Your mind begins to create a negative narrative that can lead to darker and darker thinking. Isolation magnifies the depression. Connecting with other is harder during this time and is energy draining so be selective in who you choose to spend your time with. Spend your time with a quality friend one willing to listen and add positivity. Don't go get Debbie Downer, or Turn Up Tracy. If you are slim on the list of friend or family you can call I also again suggest joining a support group or seeking therapy.
Emotions are meant to be expressed. When you don't have someone to talk to a piece of paper can be very effective. You can freely express yourself without judgment on paper. Paint, Draw, Color, Write it out. Sometimes the grief we feel is so deep that words cannot adequately address it. Find a creative outlet for your grief.
4. Sit with those emotions:
Let yourself experience them in their fullness. Do not be afraid. Allowing yourself the space to feel gives you the opportunity to honor your grief and the loved one that you lost.
5. Create something to honor your loved one:
Write them a letter, create a space in your home for them, or add to space you have already created. Buy them flowers or a card. Visit their grave.
6. Talk with the loved one:
Share with them things you wished your would have said, apologized for things you regret, tell them how they have impacted your life, share with them about your current successes, tell them how you miss them.
7. Honor Your loved one at an Event:
Do things during the holiday events to honor your loved one, make a speech, attempt to make their favorite food, hang an ornament, say a prayer.
8. Carry a symbol:
Bring a symbol of the loved one to events as if you are carrying a piece of them with you. Wear a necklace they gave you, a picture in your wallet.
9. Take Breaks:
During this time of year we are beaten over the head with holiday cheer and festivities, it like there is no escape. Take breaks from the festivities as you need to. Turn off the TV, detached from social media. Give yourself grace, it is ok to be sad. There is nothing wrong if you are feeling sad (except if you are so sad it disrupts your ability to function). At work go to the bathroom take a few deep breaths, go for a walk. Just take a moment to gather yourself.
10. Let Joy IN:
Give yourself permission to experience joy. don't feel guilty about moving forward.
There is no time limit on grief. No, you are not supposed to be over it already. Your lost loved one was one of a kind, no one in this world can replace them. So grieve, inhale exhale, its ok. take a moment to honor their love and remember their legacy. Share it with someone. I wish you peace and love during this holiday season. Give yourself permission to experience the joy and pain of the season. You do not have to feel guilty about participating and experiencing joy. Be open.