Featured FAQ: How do I cope with grief during the holidays?December 13, 2015
If you have recently lost someone, you may be anxious about facing the holidays without your loved one, especially for the first time. Even if it has been many years since your loved one has passed, you may still experience some anxiety over the holidays.
“At a time that is normally joyful, the holidays can be stressful for someone grieving a loss. I’ve had many people tell me that they wish that they could just skip over the holidays,” said Co-president John Keohane. “It’s important to take it slowly and realize that this, indeed, can be a difficult time.”
With the pervasiveness of the holiday season in our culture – from songs on the radio to holiday sales and mall decorations – it is almost impossible to ignore the holiday season. So what can you do to cope?
Do what is comfortable for you
With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, you may not be able to accomplish as much as you have in the past, so consider what you can comfortably handle. There are many expectations at this time of year, from sending out holiday cards, to buying gifts, and being merry at parties and family gatherings.
Most importantly, make a plan about how you want to spend the holidays. Share your plan with family and friends, so they can help you and support you. Be gentle with yourself and lower expectations about what you can and can’t accomplish. While it may be difficult to be social, it’s important not to isolate yourself from others. Find a balance of alone time and being with family and friends.
Protect yourself as best as you can by finding ways to put some distance between yourself and all the commotion. You can buy gifts online rather than go to the malls. Give yourself permission to say “no” when you feel overwhelmed. Perhaps make plans to leave early from a holiday gathering. Remember, this might not be the way you celebrate the holidays forever, but it is what you need to do for the time being, regardless of what other’s think is best.
Remember your loved one
It’s important to acknowledge your loved one as he or she will be on everyone’s minds as well. It’s helpful to speak openly about the person you’ve lost because it allows others the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings, too.
Everyone grieves in his or her own way, so you must fine the way that works best for you. Here are some suggestions that might help bring your loved one into the holidays in a gentle and meaningful way:
• Make gifts from that person’s clothing such as quilts, pillows or stuffed animals. A stuffed bear made from grandpa’s shirt gives a grandchild a way of holding onto the love.
• Create a consecrated space in your home with photos, candles and other mementos.
• Put a bowl and slips of paper by the person’s photo for loved ones to write down why they are grateful to have had that person in their lives.
• Give gifts in memory of your loved one by making donations to causes important to him or her.
• Create a memory tree by making special ornaments. You can write notes about special memories of that person and tie them on the tree or even stuff them into a stocking.
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