Special holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas can be a difficult time for those who have experienced loss and are grieving. The cheerful atmosphere and emphasis on family and togetherness can heighten feelings of sorrow and loneliness. Even though there may not be anything that makes a special time of year feel happy when loss is fresh, there are still ways to cope with grief and even find meaningful ways to celebrate.
1. Acknowledge and Accept Your Feelings
It’s important to acknowledge and accept your feelings of grief and sadness. Don’t try to suppress or ignore them. Losing someone to death or a broken relationship hurts and that is normal. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up, whether it’s sadness, anger, loneliness, or guilt.
2. Give Yourself Permission to Grieve
There is no right or wrong way to grieve as long it’s not destructive to yourself or someone else. Don’t feel pressured to follow any particular timeline or process no matter how people may tell you to move on. Everyone grieves differently, and it’s important to give yourself the time and space you need to heal.
3. Take Care of Yourself
Make sure you’re taking care of yourself physically and emotionally while you grieve your loss. This means eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. It’s also important to find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as relaxation techniques, journaling, venting with a trusted friend, taking walks with a special pet or spending time in nature.
4. Connect with Supportive People
Talk to people you trust about how you’re feeling. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family members who understand what you’re going through. There are also many grief support groups available that can provide a safe and understanding space to share your experiences. As the old saying goes, no man is an island; we all need the comfort of knowing someone cares.
5. Create New Traditions
The holidays may feel different without your loved one, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still find ways to celebrate. Create new traditions that honor your loved one and make the holidays meaningful for you.
6. Honor Your Loved One
Find ways to honor your loved one’s memory during the holidays. This could involve lighting a candle, sharing stories about them, or donating to a charity in their name.
7. Set Realistic Expectations
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have a perfect holiday. The holidays may not be the same as they used to be, and that’s okay. Accept that it’s okay to feel sad or lonely, and don’t try to force yourself to feel happy.
8. Seek Professional Help If Needed
If you’re struggling to cope with your grief and feel you may be sinking into despair, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist can provide you with invaluable support and guidance as you navigate the grieving process.
9. Be Open To Your Spiritual Side
Most people believe in a Higher Power and sometimes we become more open to that side of life when we are hurting. For many people praying, meditating, seeking spiritual guidance and the fellowship of other believers can be immensely comforting and provide much needed strength and understanding.
Here are some additional tips for coping with loss during the holidays:
- Be selective about the holiday events you attend.
- Take breaks if you need them.
- It’s okay to say no to holiday activities that you don’t feel up to.
- Don’t compare your holiday experience to others.
- Find ways to give back to others.
- Remember that you’re not alone. Many people experience loss during the holidays.
Remember, the holidays can be a difficult time, but there are ways to cope with loss and find meaning in the season. Be patient with yourself, and don’t hesitate to reach out for support if you need it.