The holidays, normally a festive time, can be filled with anxiety and feelings of despair for family caregivers or anyone who is grieving a loss of a loved one. Knowing the pain the holiday season can bring, here are some helpful thoughts that other bereaved persons have shared, with the hope of making the holidays easier to handle.
Ten Tips for Coping with Grief and Loss During the Holidays:
- Take care of yourself
It is easy to forget to get enough rest and to eat right. Taking care of yourself first will help you weather aspects of the holidays.
- Find a way to acknowledge the person you have lost
Rather than avoiding the feelings, find a way to remember and acknowledge the person that is meaningful and positive.
- Incorporate memories or stories about the person into your family traditions
Remember your friend or family member’s role in holiday traditions and share those memories.
- Find new traditions that honor those who are no longer here
Don’t be afraid to make changes this year–sometimes it can be very stressful to keep up with “holiday traditions” - consider incorporating a new tradition such as a special decoration or moment of reflection to commemorate your loved one.
- Plan ahead
Think ahead about what events will be especially emotional for you this and evaluate what will best ease that pain, whether it be surrounding yourself with family or excusing yourself for a private moment.
- Help others in need
Our greatest comfort may come in doing something for others; some persons feel they can acknowledge their loss more meaningfully by: volunteering to be with older people or children, helping in a hospital or soup kitchen, or helping a friend in need. The key is finding what is right for you.
- Don’t be afraid to make changes
Sometimes old traditions or routines can be too painful without important people present. Try something new this holiday season. Consider going somewhere different or changing your traditional holiday menu.
- Do what you can
Do only what is special and meaningful to you this year. Be brave enough to say no, and be realistic enough to cancel plans when you change your mind.
- Ask for help
Ask for and accept offers of concrete assistance with holiday chores like decorating, shopping, cooking or cleaning. Look for ways to involve other people in your holiday planning.
- Speak to someone outside the family
Organizations like The Center for Grief Care and Education at San Diego Hospice are ready to be of assistance by providing resources, support services, or information: (619) 278-6480 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If this is your first holiday season since the death of your loved one, know that this can be an opportunity for you to discover the kinds of activities, events, and situations that best work for you. The general trend is for things to become more tolerable with the passage of time, but this is not a given. Remember to be kind to yourself.