The holidays tend to stir up intense emotions, ranging from unparalleled excitement to profound grief. Grieving over the holidays can be difficult, especially since many other people are focused on experiencing and expressing happiness.
So even though this season may be challenging, there are many steps you can take to ensure a restful holiday. Here are five tips on dealing with grief during this festive time.
1. Let Yourself Grieve
This first step may seem straightforward, but it can be difficult to remember because so many people have high expectations for the holiday. So this year, it’s OK to take space to process heavy emotions and let yourself grieve.
Grieving is how humans process pain; it’s part of the healing process. While grief may never completely disappear, it will become more bearable over time. It also comes in waves, so you may feel fine one day and overwhelmed the next. These fluctuations are expected and your emotions will balance out again over time.
2. Do What Feels Right
Every person processes grief differently. For some, keeping holiday traditions intact may be the best way to move forward. On the other hand, some individuals may find that traditional celebrations are too reminiscent of lost loved ones and thus too painful to engage in so soon.
Give yourself grace and do what feels right for you. If you need to change holiday celebrations, do that. If tradition is the only thing keeping you from falling apart, keep on with what you’ve done in the past. As long as your choices aren’t destructive to your health and well-being, there is no wrong way to celebrate the holidays and cope with grief.
3. Surround Yourself With Community
An example of unhealthy behavior would be isolating yourself from others over the holidays. Isolation is terrible for your mental and physical well-being and will only make you feel worse in the long run. Remember: You don’t need to pretend to be happy for others, but you definitely shouldn’t spend this season alone.
Many grieving people worry about how their emotions might affect others’ holiday experiences. They are concerned that their low spirits may bring others down or that their friends’ excitement may be too overwhelming for them.
However, your loved ones care about you and want to help you during this time. They may be grieving too, and you can support each other. So it’s OK for your community to look different during this season, as long as you still spend time with others.
4. Choose Acts of Kindness
One of the most meaningful ways people can process grief is through acts of kindness for others. Focusing on others’ needs can help take your mind off your sorrow and encourage you to think positively.
Being kind is a holiday tradition that you can maintain even during seasons of grief. If it feels right, you can dedicate your volunteer work and charitable donations to your missing loved one. Celebrating the holidays as a season of giving can remind you what it feels like to engage with the outside world positively.
5. Communicate Your Needs
Because everyone grieves differently, your family and friends may not know how to support you during this time. That’s why it’s crucial to tell them. It’s important to communicate your thoughts, expectations, and emotions with your loved ones, especially if you’d like the holidays to be different this year.
However you decide to celebrate, don’t forget to consider children in your circle and their holiday experience. Kids take time to process grief too, and they often struggle with change. Gentle, honest communication within your family can help everyone make it through the holidays with as much support as possible.
The holidays are a challenging season when you’re grieving. So it’s important to let yourself process during this time, and it’s OK if your celebrations look different than usual. Give yourself and those around you a lot of grace during this time.
While the holidays can be painful, they’re also the perfect time to remember hope. Eventually, your pain will lessen, and you’ll be able to welcome positive emotions again. Until then, treasure every moment with loved ones and be gentle with yourself.