Many families and friends who have lost loved ones this year or in previous years wish they could simply press pause on the grieving process during the holiday season. Have you caught yourself dreading the holidays knowing the weeks ahead will potentially be an emotionally draining time?
Grief is unique to everyone and the way in which we cope with it will vary from person to person. Accepting loss becomes easier over time but it is something we will carry with us forever. Grief ebbs and flows, much like ocean waves and all we can do is learn to swim.
Below is a list of 8 ways to cope with grief during the holidays.
1. Set Boundaries with Holiday Events
Don’t feel obligated to participate in every event. Only do what you feel comfortable with; even if you are feeling pressured.
You may want to go to a family gathering or holiday party. But remember, you do not have to stay the entire time. It is also okay to opt-out of certain things altogether. You need to identify and find a balance that works for you.
2. Pay Attention To Your Grief Emotions
Grief is often magnified during the holidays. It typically doesn’t take a back seat during the holidays. Your feelings should be acknowledged rather than avoided.
You can experience both positive and negative feelings, which is totally normal – these feelings can coexist. You’re allowed to enjoy the holidays and miss someone at the same time.
3. Plan Ahead to Fill Empty Holiday Roles
With the loss of a loved one, certain roles will become vacant. Plan ahead and determine who will fill those vacated roles (e.g., Grandpa always dressed as Santa or Mom always decorated the house for Christmas). Making sure that someone carries out those roles can help avoid unnecessary moments of grief and assist in making your holidays more enjoyable and fluid.
4. Honor Old Traditions & Honor Memories
Another way to help cope with grief during the holidays is to continue to carry out traditions that existed in order to celebrate and honor your loved ones that are no longer present. This helps remind us of our loved ones and keep their memory present.
5. Create New Traditions
Grieving individuals can find healing through creating new traditions. This doesn’t mean that you are blocking out old memories. Your loved ones want you to enjoy the holidays. If any feelings of guilt arise in the process, remember to acknowledge, validate, and then challenge these feelings.
6. Identify Grief Coping Skills
Before the holiday season begins, it might be helpful to create a list of coping skills that you can use whether you are at a social function or at home. Having a list can be beneficial for when you’re unexpectedly hit with grief. Coping skills can include things like: taking a walk, listening to music, deep breathing, exercising, saying positive affirmations, journaling, etc.
7. Volunteer/Do Something Charitable
Evidence shows that helping and serving others can also benefit our own mental health and wellbeing. Being charitable can help reduce stress, brighten our mood, and increase our self-esteem and happiness. Volunteering doesn’t require us to spend a lot of time or money. Some examples of serving others include:
- Open the Door for Someone
- Buy Someone Lunch or Invite Them Over for Dinner
- Volunteer in Your Community
- Pick Up Garbage
- Give Away Things You No Longer Need
- Compliment Someone
- Donate Blood
8. Ask For Help When Struggling with Grief
Remember to seek support from family, friends, coworkers, and professionals if needed. It’s important to recognize when you need help. It’s equally important to seek services from a therapist or psychologist when needed. Holidays can stir up complicated emotions.
The holiday season can not always be as ‘merry and bright’ as we once remember but know that with time it gets better. Having unpleasant feelings is normal but don’t let it hinder you from enjoying your time with loved ones. Take it one step at a time. There is hope for a brighter day and it’s coming quicker than you think. Happy Holidays.
For those of you needing help coping with the loss of a loved one, please don’t hesitate to reach out to any one of our staff at Allen Mortuaries. We can help you or put you in touch with a professional therapist within our trusted network. Allen Mortuaries was voted best funeral home in Logan, UT and Cache Valley.