- Grief and the Holidays
- Love Does Not End With Death
- Be tolerant of Your Physical and Psychological Limits
- Eliminate Unnecessary Stress
- Be With Supportive, Comforting People
- Talk About the Person Who Has Died
- Do What Is Right for You During the Holidays
- Plan Ahead for Family Gatherings
- Embrace Your Treasure of Memories
- Renew Your Resources for Living
- Coping with Grief on the Holidays After Losing a Loved One
- Five Tips for Coping with Grief at the Holidays
- Honor Old Traditions & Create New Ones
- Spend Some Time Focusing on Others
- Lean on Friends and Family
- Why Might Feelings of Loss or Grief Intensify During the Holidays?
- How Do You Help Someone Who is Grieving at Christmas?
- Contact Elite Care at Home Today
- 9 Tips for Dealing With Grief and Loss During the Holidays
- 3. Get support
- 4. Focus on the kids
- 5. Plan ahead
- 6. Give
- 7. Acknowledge and honor those who have passed
- 8. Do something different
- 9. Skip it
Grief and the Holidays
Holidays are often difficult for anyone who has experienced the death of someone loved. Rather than being times of family togetherness, sharing and thanksgiving, holidays can bring feelings of sadness, loss and emptiness.
Love Does Not End With Death
Since love does not end with death, holidays may result in a renewed sense of personal grief-a feeling of loss un that experienced in the routine of daily living. Society encourages you to join in the holiday spirit, but all around you the sounds, sights and smells trigger memories of the one you love who has died.
No simple guidelines exist that will take away the hurt you are feeling. We hope, however, the following suggestions will help you better cope with your grief during this joyful, yet painful, time of the year. As you read through this article, remember that by being tolerant and compassionate with yourself, you will continue to heal.
During the holiday season, don't be afraid to express your feelings of grief. Ignoring your grief won't make the pain go away and talking about it openly often makes you feel better. Find caring friends and relatives who will listen-without judging you. They will help make you feel understood.
Be tolerant of Your Physical and Psychological Limits
Feelings of loss will probably leave you fatigued. Your low energy level may naturally slow you down. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. And lower your own expectations about being at your peak during the holiday season
Eliminate Unnecessary Stress
You may already feel stressed, so don't overextend yourself. Avoid isolating yourself, but be sure to recognize the need to have special time for yourself. Realize also that merely «keeping busy» won't distract you from your grief, but may actually increase stress and postpone the need to talk out thoughts and feelings related to your grief.
Be With Supportive, Comforting People
Identify those friends and relatives who understand that the holiday season can increase your sense of loss and who will allow you to talk openly about your feelings. Find those persons who encourage you to be yourself and accept your feelings-both happy and sad.
Talk About the Person Who Has Died
Include the person's name in your holiday conversation. If you are able to talk candidly, other people are more ly to recognize your need to remember that special person who was an important part of your life.
Do What Is Right for You During the Holidays
Well-meaning friends and family often try to prescribe what is good for you during the holidays. Instead of going along with their plans, focus on what you want to do. Discuss your wishes with a caring, trusted friend.
Talking about these wishes will help you clarify what it is you want to do during the holidays. As you become aware of your needs, share them with your friends and family.
Plan Ahead for Family Gatherings
Decide which family traditions you want to continue and which new ones you would to begin. Structure your holiday time. This will help you anticipate activities, rather than just reacting to whatever happens.
Getting caught off guard can create feelings of panic, fear and anxiety during the time of the year when your feelings of grief are already heightened.
As you make your plans, however, leave room to change them if you feel it is appropriate.
Embrace Your Treasure of Memories
Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of someone loved. And holidays always make you think about times past. Instead of ignoring these memories, share them with your family and friends.
Keep in mind that memories are tinged with both happiness and sadness. If your memories bring laughter, smile. If your memories bring sadness, then it's alright to cry.
Memories that were made in love-no one can ever take them away from you.
Renew Your Resources for Living
Spend time thinking about the meaning and purpose of your life. The death of someone loved created opportunities for taking inventory of your life-past, present and future. The combination of a holiday and a loss naturally results in looking inward and assessing your individual situation. Make the best use of this time to define the positive things in life that surround you.
During the holidays, you may find a renewed sense of faith or discover a new set of beliefs. Associate with people who understand and respect your need to talk about these beliefs. If your faith is important, you may want to attend a holiday service or special religious ceremony.
As you approach the holidays, remember: grief is both a necessity and a privilege. It comes as a result of giving and receiving love. Don't let anyone take your grief away. Love yourself. Be patient with yourself. And allow yourself to be surrounded by loving, caring people.
Coping with Grief on the Holidays After Losing a Loved One
Holidays and Grief
The holidays are seen as a time of happiness and celebration, but they may not feel that way after the loss of a loved one. As the holidays approach, you might find yourself feeling anxious and overwhelmed, wishing you could just skip this season and move on into the next calendar year.
With this post, we’d to offer some advice on how to cope with the pain you feel before and during the holiday season. While these strategies may not make the holidays feel the same as they did before – change is inevitable, after all – they should help you approach this season in a better frame of mind. We hope these strategies help, and we wish you nothing but the best moving forward.
Five Tips for Coping with Grief at the Holidays
Let’s jump right into a list of tips that you can use immediately as you prepare for the holiday season.
- Don’t ignore the topic. As fall arrives and October turns to November, there will be a temptation to ignore the upcoming holidays. You are already dealing with your grief over this painful loss, after all, so you don’t want to add to it by thinking about the experience of going through the holidays without someone so important to you. While the avoidance of this topic may feel comforting in the moment, it isn’t going to help you work through this grieving period in the long run. The holidays are going to come either way, so it’s a more productive approach to consider how you feel about the season ahead and how you would to handle it. These will be tough thoughts, to be sure, but you’ll be better for it in the end.
- Build a reasonable plan. Part of preparing for the holidays is planning out how you will spend your time. If you have lost someone important to you in the past year, those plans are going to look different than they did in the past. Deciding how you are going to spend your time in the coming holiday season should be a balance of engaging with friends and family and not doing so much that you feel overwhelmed. You may not want to do as much as you’ve done in the past, and that’s okay – but you probably don’t want to stay home the entire time, either. Think about what events you’d to include in your schedule and permit yourself to sit out a couple of things, as well.
- Be open to grief. Given the expectation at holiday time to be positive and cheery, you might feel you should suppress your grief and put on a happy face. Put that feeling to the side and allow yourself to grieve, even during the holidays. You are going through a difficult time, and there is nothing wrong with letting the sadness and other negative emotions come through. Those are all part of the process and pushing them down is only going to make it harder to heal.
- Externalize your loss. Along those same lines, keeping all your pain and emotion inside is going to make things worse. Finding a way to externalize your loss is a powerful tool that can be especially helpful during the holidays. Also, externalizations are a way to include other people in the healing process, which is another potentially helpful tool. Consider simple acts lighting a candle or placing a bouquet of flowers in honor of the loved one or loved ones you’ve lost.
- Forgive yourself. Above all else, forgive yourself for whatever emotions come up during the holiday season. This difficult time is often made worse when a grieving individual feels he or she needs to act or behave in a certain way just because it’s the holidays. Remember, you don’t owe anything to anyone, and you have the right to feel however it is you feel about the situation. Be nice to yourself and let the holidays play out in a way that feels comfortable and appropriate for your needs.
You may find some of these tips more helpful than others, but we hope at least some of them help you approach the holidays with some comfort.
Honor Old Traditions & Create New Ones
The traditions that come along with the holiday season are part of what makes this such a difficult time to deal with loss. Specifically, traditions that have included a member of your family for many years will be hard to continue if that person is no longer with you. So, should you try to carry on those old traditions or work on creating new ones to move forward?
Most ly, a combination of those two approaches will be the best bet. You don’t want to throw out everything you’ve done before – there is some comfort to be found in tradition, even if it has changed – but it’s also okay to create some new rituals. Make it a goal to start one new tradition this holiday season while still honoring some of those past traditions that you’ve always held dear.
Spend Some Time Focusing on Others
It’s natural to focus your thoughts inwardly during such a tough time, but you may find relief and healing in working on behalf of others during the holidays.
There are countless volunteer opportunities at this time of year, and you don’t need to have any experience or expertise to get involved.
Pick a local cause that you feel is important and donate at least a little bit of your time.
The healing power of helping others is tremendous and you may be surprised at how dramatically this action can shift your view on the whole season.
Lean on Friends and Family
The first holiday season after the loss of a loved one is sure to be hard, so this is a great time to turn to your friends and family for support.
Those who are closest to you will be happy to help in any way they can, but they might not know how. If you take the lead by reaching out, you’ll find ears that are eager to listen.
Feeling the love that comes from these groups can bring some light back into a season that might otherwise feel a little dark.
Why Might Feelings of Loss or Grief Intensify During the Holidays?
One of the ironies of the holiday season is that this time of year can bring a tremendous amount of grief to so many people. The idea of the season is to be happy and thankful for what we have and those around us, but the very celebrations themselves can be a trigger for a flood of negative feelings and emotions.
Largely, it is the memories we have of holidays past that lead to this grief. When a loved one is no longer present, it’s all too easy to think about happy times gone by.
Holiday gatherings and other events are extremely memorable – perhaps more so than anything else you do during the year.
So, when the holidays return and a loved one has passed recently, your memories of that individual are sure to be front of mind.
How Do You Help Someone Who is Grieving at Christmas?
It’s difficult to see someone grieving at Christmas or while celebrating any holiday. You naturally want everyone in your circle or family and friends to be happy and enjoying the season. At the same time, you don’t want to say the wrong thing to help, and inadvertently make things worse.
So, how do you approach the situation properly? Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to something so personal.
You’ll need to use your understanding of the other person and the situation they are facing to decide if and when you should say something about their loss.
Some people will want to talk about it at length, while others will prefer to deal with their grief privately.
As one piece of advice, it’s usually best to get ahead of this situation and talk it over before the holidays arrive. On Christmas Day, for example, the individual is ly to be very emotional. If you’ve already talked about how the holidays will go and what they’d from you in terms of support, you won’t have to talk about it in the moment.
Contact Elite Care at Home Today
For dependable non-medical in-home care services, turn to the professional team at Elite Care at Home. We offer a range of services in both Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, and our locally owned business has been caring for residents of this area for more than 20 years. Feel free to contact us today for more information or to get started.
9 Tips for Dealing With Grief and Loss During the Holidays
Everyone takes his or her own path in grief and mourning. Some may try to avoid sad feelings; others will be bathed in tears. Some feel bad that they aren't up to enjoying a holiday; others feel guilty because they are feeling joy.
Accept whatever you are feeling, as well as the inevitable ups and downs. You may feel peaceful one moment and gut-wrenchingly sad the next. If you stay in tune with your own needs, you'll know how to get through the holiday without judging yourself or others.
3. Get support
Talk with loved ones about your emotions and mental health needs. Be honest about how you'd to do things this year — if you want to talk about those who have passed, then do so, and let others know it's OK. If you participate in a holiday activity, let people know you may bow out quickly if it's too much for you, and, if possible, have a friend on standby for support.
Be aware if you are sinking into depression, anxiety or complicated grief (a psychological condition that involves prolonged, very intense grief that interferes with daily functioning). Seek professional help from a physician, therapist or counselor via telehealth.
You can also look into virtual support groups or other services available through your workplace or house of worship, or connect with friends or others who are grieving via online communities such as AARP's Grief & Loss community and Family Caregivers Discussion Group.
4. Focus on the kids
Many holiday activities place special attention on children, and it often helps to zero in on their needs. Realize that your choices around getting through the holidays may affect the children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews in your family.
If you withdraw, they may not understand why you don't want to join family festivities. Perhaps you can allow yourself to absorb their joy by participating in activities that are important to them and excuse yourself when you reach your limit.
5. Plan ahead
Sometimes the anticipation is worse than the actual holiday. Plan comforting activities ahead of time so you have something to look forward to, rather than building up dread of the pain that the holiday could bring.
New activities without specific memories tied to lost loved ones might be easier. But remember that familiar traditions might be comforting as well, even if you have to adapt them for this year's circumstances.
In times of grief and loss, when we may feel paralyzed by sheer emotion or negative feelings (sadness, anger, resentment), the biggest comfort may come from giving to others. Taking action that makes a difference can help widen our perspectives.
For example, you can honor a loved one you've lost by making a donation in her name to a charity or cause she cherished. Or you can buy something that symbolizes the person, or what you shared with him, to donate to a needy family.
Also try channeling negative energies in positive ways that create good in the world. Give of your time and talents. Volunteer to help people in a way that relates to what caused your anguish.
If, say, you've lost someone to suicide, volunteer for a depression or suicide hotline.
If a loved one succumbed to COVID-19 or another disease, give money to a local hospital or participate in a clinical trial.
7. Acknowledge and honor those who have passed
It can be helpful to participate in a holiday ritual in memory of someone you've lost, especially if it relates directly to his or her interests. Here are some ideas.
- Light candles.
- Talk, write about or post on social media about the person.
- Donate children's toys or books through a charity such as Toys for Tots.
- Dedicate a prayer or religious service to the loved one's memory, such as a Catholic Mass or Jewish Kaddish.
- Plant a tree in memory of the deceased, in your own yard or in a forest (through a group the Arbor Day Foundation).
- Make a card or write a holiday letter with the person's picture.
- Place the deceased's photo or a significant item of his on your Christmas tree or among holiday decorations.
8. Do something different
The holidays are already very different this year; losing loved ones with whom you've long celebrated can make it feel these annual celebrations will never be the same again. In a way, they won't, and accepting this will help you manage expectations. But remember that different doesn't have to mean bad.
If you can, embrace the difference. Plan novel activities (especially helpful the first holiday season after the loss) that create new memories.
Hold a virtual family gathering, change the holiday menu, or have a meal delivered from a grocery store or restaurant.
Many families return to their usual rituals the following year, but some enjoy incorporating these fresh experiences into holiday routines permanently.
9. Skip it
If you feel that it will be too much for you and you'd to simply opt participation in a holiday, let family and friends know. But plan comforting alternative activities for yourself, and let someone know what you will be doing. It's a good idea to make sure someone checks in with you regularly, especially on the real holiday.
The bottom line: Grieving is a very individual and personal journey. No one can tell you how to grieve or how long it will take. I've lived through the loss of Mom and Dad, my niece Shaelee and my sister Karen, all around the holidays. I've survived by taking my time, doing what feels right to me, seeking support, living in the moment and honoring my loved ones.
Life may never be the same, but you will get through this, and joy will surprise you when it bubbles again — I promise.