Grief is defined as a “deep sorrow”. When you lose someone of significance in your life, everyone says they’re sorry, brings food and then after a few weeks go back to their routine.
That’s okay, that’s their normal. However, you have to adjust to a new normal, and it doesn’t get easier around the holidays.
If this was someone within your family or a close friend who you would normally see around the holidays, it can make the happiest time of the year, the saddest.
Grief is a process, which means there are going to be uncomfortable stages you have to go through. One of those stages is grieving the loss during the holidays.
What can you do to cope? Here are some tips to get your started:
Tip 1 For Coping With Grief During The Holidays
Reach out to friends or other family members and see if you can join in on plans that are being set.
It can be difficult to make plans that are different from previous traditions, which is why you would want to branch out with those who know what you have recently been through.
When you make a plan to attend you will be more likely to follow through.
Be sure to drive yourself or ride with someone who will be okay with leaving when you are ready to go. This is not a race!
Becoming social after a loss is difficult enough, without feeling like you’re stuck where you are. You should be able to go back to your safe place whenever you need to.
Tip 2 For Coping With Grief During The Holidays
Don’t Feel Guilty
If you have to leave the festivities early due to your mood or emotions that is okay! Give yourself space to heal from your loss.
If that means you can only stand being in the “holiday spirit” for an hour, then an hour it is!
Do not feel guilty, or allow others to make you feel guilty, for grieving in your way.
Tip 3 For Coping With Grief During The Holidays
You do not have to forget your loss rather come to terms with it. Please know this will not happen overnight!
Rather understand that in order to process through the grief, there are moments where you have to acknowledge that the loved one is no longer with you.
By paying tribute to your loved one during the holidays you are accepting that they are no longer there but will always have a place in your life and heart.
You can pay tribute in many ways such as making their favorite dish, or playing their favorite holiday song.
Tip 4 For Coping With Grief During The Holidays
Whether it is journaling, meditating or exercising be sure to check in with yourself often.
By practicing mindfulness, you will be able to identify why you are more tearful, irritated or stressed at a particular time.
If you or someone notices you are more irritable at work lately. It maybe because of the workload but it could also be triggers that remind you of your loved one and how they will not be around this holiday season.
Essentially, before you can change your reaction you have to acknowledge your emotions! Let them flow! Cry if you need to, eat what you need and sleep how you can because there is no proven way of grief that works the same for each person.
Tip 5 For Coping With Grief During The Holidays
Plan For Triggers
As mentioned before, memories may be triggered by things within your environment especially throughout the holidays. I have had clients come in during or right after the holiday season shocked that they behaved a certain way or responded abnormally to family during the holiday.
A lot of them have “come to terms” with the death of their loved one, however as mentioned before, grief is a process.
It can be difficult to identify your triggers because the holidays are at a specific time of the year, so you do not frequently encounter these triggers throughout the year.
Since, these are not frequently encountered you have to plan for the unexpected. Identify what calms you. Does meditation or exercise center you? Do you have someone you can identify, as your person? Take time before the holiday to plan for triggered emotions.
Tip 6 For Coping With Grief During The Holidays
Reach Out For Help
If you have not already, become integrated into psychotherapy. Having a therapist to go process your feelings and emotions surrounding your grief.
There are many steps to take to finding a therapist that suits you, the easiest being Psychology Today. You can specify specialties, gender or anything else that would make you feel comfortable walking in that door and receiving help. There are also online therapy options that you could look into such as Better Help.