The holiday season is a joyous time for most, but those who have experienced a loss, this usually festive time of the year can be a painful reminder that your loved one is no longer around. You wonder how will you cope with grief?
Everyone experiences loss of those they love, but the intensity of your grief can be doubled by your relationship to the person who died such as a parent, spouse, or child and this is the first holiday without that person who was so important in your life.
Like me and most other people who face this holiday season with a huge void, a hole in our hearts we have many questions and thoughts that are conjured up in your mind like, How can I survive this? I want to hide until the holiday season is over, I don’t feel like celebrating, I can’t act normal because my life isn’t normal, I can’t face happy people, no one understands the grief I am going through, how will our holiday traditions now be different?
You should know that there really are no right or wrong answers to all the questions and all the questions you ponder may not have answers, maybe not now anyway.
Before you are totally overcome with anxiety, overwhelm and sadness there are things you can do to ease your pain and sorrow.
Here are just a few ideas that will help you cope immediately this year. You will feel so much better honoring yourself and the memories of your loved one. You will also release expectations and surprises you don’t want to face.
Lower Your Expectations
Don’t feel obligated to send the holidays cards and bake all the cookies like you used to.
Honor What You Feel
These are your feelings and whatever you do this holiday, claim those feelings.
You now realize that this year’s holidays and perhaps holidays yet to come will not be the same or unfold how you’d wish. It is best to plan your days ahead as this will help you cope.
Empower yourself where you can
Obviously there are many changes you can’t escape from and you may feel your power has been taken away. Perhaps this is a good time to evaluate your holiday traditions, which ones hold meaning and which ones you want to keep.
For the first year or two without your loved one, it usually isn’t a good idea to make any major changes to your traditions like leaving town only to escape or ignoring all sense of traditions you used to share.
Get and maintain a support system
The holiday season is a time when emotions naturally are running high, as are the memories making this a difficult time to be alone. I encourage you to find support of family and friends who can pitch in and offer help.
If your loss was recent, you will want everyone to remember your loved one. I know I did. You may choose to plan a ceremony or special tribute to honor your loved one, or a casual round the table recalling stories kind of sharing.
During your time of sorrow, you may find it impossible to find anything to be grateful for. But I assure you even during our darkest time there are things we can be grateful for.
You too can cope with grief during the holidays if you are gentle with yourself and try some of these ideas and more than anything, finding some joy during this festive time of year is also a wonderful way of honoring the memories of those who have brought us so much joy and those that are still with us.