Make Space For Your Emotions
Perhaps the most important thing to know is this: it’s okay to allow yourself to feel sad. The holidays oftentimes conjure memories of happiness shared with the person you’ve lost, so it’s only natural to have feelings about that. Sometimes feelings can be triggered by hearing a special Christmas song or seeing your loved one’s favorite decoration or ornament. Do your best not to judge yourself when feelings arise. Instead, give the emotions space, take mindful breaths, and try to relax. Don’t be embarrassed if you become emotional when around others, either. Rather than feeling shame about your feelings in isolation, perhaps share what you’re going through with others. A good friend can often help to make space for your feelings, as well. Also, do your best to not try and numb your feelings. Alcohol or other distractions may help in the short term, but grief can take time to process. Be kind to yourself.
Move At Your Own Pace
There’s no such thing as “the correct amount of time to grieve.” While some may think that mourning the loss of a loved one has a shelf-life, that simply isn’t true. You’re not required to buck up and put on a brave face just because others feel that you’ve had enough time. While you should be cognizant of things like depression and anxiety, which should be worked through with a healthcare professional, the grief cycle can be different for everyone. You may be ready to celebrate the season right away, and that’s okay too! Others may take longer to get into the holiday spirit, or may decide to avoid it altogether — and that’s okay, too. Don’t let anyone dictate your grief journey.
Be Sure to Set Healthy Boundaries
The holiday season can often lead to a full social calendar, but when dealing with grief, you may not be up to spreading the holiday cheer. And you know what? That’s okay. You are not required to go to every party you’re invited to. However, if you want to fill up your dance card, go for it! You are allowed to set healthy boundaries. You don’t owe anyone your time; your presence is requested, but not demanded. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, skip caroling for a night and kick your feet up. But if you’re ready to rock around the Christmas tree, show up with bells on!
Honor The Memory Of Your Loved One
When all that remains of a loved one is your memory of them, it’s important to take the necessary time to cherish and honor these memories. That way, their legacy can continue to live on long after they’ve gone. Tell stories about them that make you laugh. Talk about little things they did that inspired you, or that made you who you are today. There might be a temptation to clam up when around others for fear of becoming emotional, but we suggest opening up. The pain of loss will eventually ease with each passing moment, little by little. Sharing your burden, while honoring your loved one’s memory, can be a healing and cathartic experience. You might also consider donating to a charity in their name or even starting a foundation to support a cause they believed in. Spread the love, and share your memories.
Treasure Your Traditions Or Create New Ones
The holiday season is filled with traditions, from lighting candles and decorating the house to singing and dancing to special songs. When someone close to us has passed away, these traditions might feel as if the shine has worn off of them. It’s okay to celebrate with the same music or decorations that you’ve used in years past. Celebrating will not diminish the memory of your loved one, but instead continues to honor them. They wouldn’t want you to give up your favorite holiday drink or song; they would want you to enjoy it. You can also look to the future and create new traditions. Perhaps now’s the time to try hand-crafted gifts or a different kind of celebration or ritual. These new traditions can give you something bright to look forward to every year, while still acknowledging the love you have for your person and those left behind.
There’s no right or wrong way to celebrate or to grieve. Be kind to yourself during the holiday season. We hope that these ideas for dealing with grief during the holidays will bring you comfort, joy, and peace, this year and every year moving forward.
We want to help you make the best decisions for you and your family to celebrate the memory of a life lived. If you have any questions about our cemetery, funeral home or cremation services, please contact us.
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Read more: Overcoming Grief: 4 Strategies For Coping With Loss