During the holiday season we see reflections of family togetherness and sharing. However, for those who have experienced a loss, sadness may seem sadder and loneliness may be deeper. There are no simple guidelines that exist for the hurt you may be feeling. It is important to acknowledge your feelings rather than hold them inside. Grief is the internal expression of our loss and mourning is the external expression. Self-care is important during this time. This may include:
- Being aware of your physical and psychological limitations-grief is exhausting and some of the hardest work you will ever do
- Eliminate unnecessary stress, don’t overextend yourself…but avoid isolating yourself
- Surround yourself with loving, supportive people who encourage you to be yourself and accept your feelings, both sad and happy
- Give yourself permission to start new traditions. Grief allows us to evaluate what parts of the holidays you enjoy and those you do not
Here are some ways to remember loved ones during this holiday season:
- Share favorite holiday memories spent with your loved ones. What made it so special?
- At family gatherings have everyone tell a funny story about your loved one
- Volunteer for a favorite charity
- Take flowers to a nursing home/assisted living facility
- Make a donation in memory of your loved one
You are the expert on your grief, and it is important to lean into it. You can and will get through the holidays, finding continued meaning in your life. Sometimes it is helpful to talk to a professional who can help you process your feelings during this difficult time.
Further resources include: Grief.com (David Kessler) and Center for Loss.com (Dr. Alan Wolfelt)