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How to Deal with Grief During the Holidays

How to Deal with Grief During the Holidays

This time of year, many ponder how to deal with grief around the holidays? The season, cherished for  time spent with loved ones, can serve as a painful reminder of what is lost when someone is dealing with the absence of a loved one due to death, divorce or separation. The merry atmosphere may turn this ordinarily festive period into a time of increased emotional suffering. 

Here is a comprehensive guide for navigating grief.

It’s OK to grieve

Let yourself feel the pain and don’t feel guilty about your sadness in the face of others’ happiness. Grief isn’t tied to a timetable, it can persist regardless of whether the loss happened a week ago or years prior. Surround yourself with understanding individuals and don’t hesitate to seek professional counseling if needed. If celebrating the holidays feels unbearable, remember that it’s perfectly OK to take a break from usual traditions. 

Grieving doesn’t have a set endpoint

You can also honor the memory of your loved one during the season by reciting a prayer, sharing anecdotes, lighting a candle, penning a tribute, or donating to a cause they were passionate about. Remember, you hold the power to redefine traditions. Find peace and healing in crafting new traditions that resonate with your journey of remembrance. 

Grieving isa part of the human experience and merely signifies the magnitude of your love. As an unknown author eloquently said, “Grief is not an indication of weakness, nor a lack of faith; it is the price of love.” 

If you know someone coping with bereavement during the holiday season, don’t shy away because you aren’t sure of what to say. Offer help or simply be present. Be a willing listener and refrain from hurriedly advising them to “move on.” Acknowledge that everyone’s grieving process is unique and varies in duration. Your presence can be a hugely meaningful gift to those grieving. 

A stark reminder of departed loved ones

This period is challenging irrespective of when the loss transpired. If you’re not grieving but know someone who is, read on for recommendations on how to offer additional support. 

Remember that “moving on” isn’t realistic for someone in grief. The festive season, permeating society shortly after Halloween, tends to heighten feelings of loss and generate apprehension. 

Communicate regularly with those grieving. Phone calls, emails, text messages, or even cards offer a connection and serve as a reassurance of your availability.

One of the best ways to help is just by attentively listening. Allow them to express their emotions and memories; your understanding and validation provide immeasurable comfort. 

Respect their approach towards celebrating the holidays

Some may follow established traditions, whereas others might create new ones or completely abstain from holiday activities. Suggest a mix of the old and new traditions if they seem open to the idea. Help them cultivate a balance between nostalgia and creating new memories. 

Extend a helping hand. The holiday season can compound stress for those who are grieving. Help with holiday chores like shopping, baking, decorating or childcare could be a valuable gift. Offer your assistance and allow them some much needed respite. 

Showing solidarity by inviting them to your holiday celebrations and activities could help alleviate their sense of isolation. If you volunteer during this season, extend an invitation to join; contributing to the welfare of others can provide solace. 

The most important thing to remember is to not allow discomfort to deter you from reaching out to your loved one in grief. Ensure that they understand you are there for them, acknowledging their feelings and remembering the individual they dearly miss. 

Helpful healing concepts

Re-affirming connections with the departed loved one can harness the healing power of memories. Mementos, such as photographs, articles of clothing, and favorite books or songs can be sources of solace. These tangible reminders can help recall fond memories and strengthen the personal influence of the dearly departed. You may also consider incorporating these mementos into your holiday rituals. 

On the other hand, honoring your loved one with a unique, personal ceremony can aid in the healing process. This could involve releasing flowers into a body of water, planting a tree, sending a letter to the heavens tied to a helium balloon, or anything else that holds personal significance. These acts could serve as cathartic, tangible expressions of your memories, love, and grief. 

Seeking professional help 

Despite the support from loved ones and the healing power of personal rituals, there might be times when it feels overwhelming to cope with your grief alone. In such cases, seeking professional help is a crucial step. Bereavement counselors or grief support groups can provide a safe, empathetic space to express your feelings of loss and sorrow. 

Remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness. Instead, it is an act of self-care, a testament to the value you place on your mental well-being. Many funeral homes, like Phaneuf, provide bereavement support services and can guide you to resources in your area. 

Ongoing self-care 

Finally, it is essential to remember the importance of ongoing self care. Grieving is an intense and emotionally draining process. It is therefore essential to take care of your physical and mental well-being. 

  • Ensure you’re getting plenty of rest. Sleep aids recuperation and restoration.
  • Prioritize nutrition. Aim for balanced meals that nourish your body and brain.
  • Physical activity, even a brisk walk, can stimulate the production of mood-enhancing endorphins.
  • Articulate your feelings by writing in a journal or creating art. Creative outlets can promote processing and healing.
  • Relaxation techniques such as meditation, massage, or yoga can help manage stress and promote tranquility.

Don’t forget to be patient and kind to yourself, especially if you experience setbacks. Grief is not a smooth journey; it ebbs and flows. Remember, there is no quick fix, no rigid timeline, only the passage of time provides healing. The sorrow may linger, but its intensity will diminish over time, as your resiliency and strength grow.

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