Grief does not take a break during the holidays. In fact grief can be harder to handle during these times of celebrations and traditions. Understand that even though the holidays are a joyous time, you may not have that joy this year. It’s okay to honor your emotions and not feel like you always have to fake your joy. Although, there is some truth in the saying “fake it ’til you make it” but there are times it’s okay to not fake it. The following are some suggestions to help you through these next couple of months.
- Share with your loved ones your struggles to be present during the celebrations. Let them know how you are feeling so they don’t feel confused by your actions and attitudes. Let them help you. Sometimes by voicing our feelings we can help release them.
- Light a candle to honor your loved one during holiday meals and gatherings.
- Don’t feel guilty about changing holiday plans. Sending out holiday cards may not be a priority this year. Attending holiday parties may be too draining, or you can opt to make an appearance and leave early.
- Consider changing up the holidays. Spend it at a different place else or cook different foods.
- At the same time, it’s okay to cling to traditions that bring you comfort. Maybe your loved one enjoyed a certain meal or music this time of year and it brings you comfort to listen to that music and prepare that food.
- Make a donation to a charity in honor of your loved one.
- Adopt a family at the holidays. Churches and local charities usually have lists of families who need assistance. The joy of helping others can temporarily help lift your grief.
- Visit your loved one’s burial site. Leave flowers, a wreath, or charm recognizing/acknowledging the holiday.
- Take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, do not self medicate with alcohol or drugs, do something nice for yourself, exercise.
- During a holiday gathering share your favorite memory of your loved one, tell a funny story, invite others to reminisce about their favorite memories also.
The most important thing to do is honor how you feel but don’t shut yourself off from others. This is not the time to isolate yourself. Reach out to others. Your family and friends want to help.