When you’ve lost a loved one the holidays can sometimes be a painful reminder of those who have passed on. The holidays are about family and togetherness, and with someone missing it can be an incredibly overwhelming time; the worst part is that it can be hard for others to relate or offer support since it is sometimes hard for them to know what to say.
To recap our 11/19 workshop, A “New Normal”: A Holiday Guide for Coping with Grief and Loss, I’ve compiled some tips that I hope you’ll find useful as you find ways to bring peace to your mind and soul.
1. Self-Care Is Your Primary Priority
Yes, gifts need to be wrapped, holiday cards need to be sent, cookies need to be baked, the driveway needs to be shoveled, but what matters most this season is caring for yourself. This means taking time, just for you, to self-reflect and relax.
Some of my favorite ideas are to meditate, take a yoga class, listen to some favorite music, read a fluffy book, color (it’s all the rage right now and proven to be good for mental health), journal, get a massage, or even buy something frivolous that you always wanted, but never allowed yourself to indulge in. Whatever you choose, make sure it is just for YOU!
2. Set Realistic Expectations For Yourself
Acknowledge that this year will be different and think about the types of hectic tasks you did last year and decide if you still feel up for it. Delegation is your friend and I’m sure another family member or friend could run those letters to the post office for you or pick up that last minute pie crust.
Examine what tasks come along with preparing for the holidays and ask yourself if you want to continue those or not for this year. For example, are you feeling stressed because you’re behind on your holiday gift shopping? Instead of fighting the hordes, boil a big pot of tea and consider shopping on your computer: most places, like Amazon, offer gift wrapping for a couple extra dollars!
3. Pre-Plan Your Escape Route
If you’re out at a holiday party, dinner event, Chanukah gathering, or another celebration, make sure to have a clear “escape plan” ready to go in the back of your mind and let your partner (if you’re attending with someone else) know. Just having a plan and the support of your partner can make you feel more at ease so that if you do start to feel overwhelmed with grief or sadness, you can politely excuse yourself and go home.
Do not feel guilty or think you’re a Grinch – simply put on some cozy pajamas and watch your favorite holiday movie in the comfort of your own home. Better yet, watch a goofy comedy for some laughs (science shows laughing decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies!) and distraction from the events of that day since we all know giggling is a great cure for feeling blue.
4. Create A New Tradition to Honor Your Loved One
While some may want to mourn in private, it’s important to accept the loss and perhaps consider incorporating your loved one in a new ritual. For example, before the holiday meal light a special candle for your loved one and have a moment of silence to celebrate their life. Or maybe buy a bouquet of flowers your loved one liked and make that the table centerpiece.
Perhaps your father had a favorite, though terrible, game he liked to play at the table or after the meal. Humor his memory and get others involved and relish in the memories of the happy times you had. While they are no longer physically with you, their memory lives on through you and the others around the table so, if you feel up to it, bring them to the table.
5. See A Counselor
Coping with grief is hard enough, but talking about it can be extremely difficult for some people, so maybe you’ve been putting it off. Some say grief is like adding rocks into a backpack.
Each loss, a death, divorce, or a big move away from family and friends, is packed in like another rock and some are much bigger than others. When grief is unresolved, one of these emotional rocks may come tumbling out of the backpack when we least expect it and spiral you into a depression.
It’s so important to speak with someone about your pain and we’d be honored to meet with you to help you work through grieving during the holidays. We have a grief counselor, Sarah Boone, whose passion is helping those who are grieving.
If you’ve enjoyed this post and would like to schedule a time to speak, please call us at 301-960-1198 or, if you’re more comfortable, email us through the form on our website: www.lotuspointwellness.com/contact