Dealing with Grief During the Holidays
The holidays can be a difficult time. This year is particularly hard because a lot of us are grieving the loss of our loved ones.
Grief is a normal and natural reaction to the death of a loved one. Most of us are not prepared for the long journey of grief that is sometimes devastating, frightening, and often lonely. We may think, do, and say things that are very unlike us. There seems to be no respite, no end to the intense feelings that we experience. These feelings can be even more intensified during the holiday season. Everywhere we go we hear holiday music, people shopping and preparing for celebration while we are hurting from the pain of our loss. Our loss could be the passing of a loved one or even the loss of a relationship, divorce, pet, illness, moving and the pandemic we are all currently facing. Being alone during this holiday time makes it even more difficult. This year especially can be difficult as many of us will not be with our family or friends.
Do not feel pressure to be merry. Many people feel lonely, sad, anxious and depressed at this time of year. If you don’t feel as happy as you think you should, don’t fight it. Forcing feelings that aren’t there will only make matters worse, and there really aren’t any “shoulds” about it.
Grief has been likened to a raw open wound. With great care it eventually will heal but there will always be a scar. Life will never be the same but eventually you will get better.
Grief has its common and its unique sides. Although it is a universal experience, no two people grieve the same, even in the same family. The expression “grief work” is very true. It may be the hardest work that you will ever perform. It is draining.
A few points to remember:
We cannot control the feelings that arise within us. These feelings come from deep inside, but we can choose what to do with them. We can accept them or reject them. To deny only prolongs grief. Remember, what we do determines whether we remain in our grief or survive. Feelings should be recognized honestly, they are not right or wrong.
There are no choices with grief. You must go through it. The expression of grief is essential for good emotional and physical health even though it is painful and difficult. There are no easy answers or short cuts, no way under, over, or around your grief.
It is strongly suggested not to make major decisions such as moving, money matters, etc. during the early stages of grief especially while judgment is cloudy. It is recommended you wait at least one year.
Find someone who will listen
Grief has no timetable
Do not take on new responsibilities right away
We do need the help of relatives and friends whom you trust and who will listen when you need to talk. You can call or zoom with family or friends. Other times we may need professional counseling. Remember that grief takes a lot of energy. Treat yourself with the same care and affection that you would offer to a good friend in the same situation. Be patient with yourself. Go gently, don’t rush too much. Your body, mind and heart need energy to mend.