It’s that time of year when everyone around you is saying “Happy Holidays,” but you may be thinking how unhappy your holidays are this year. If you are coping with loss, here are nine tips for surviving the holidays.
1. Give yourself permission to grieve not only the “big” losses but the “little”
ones too. Maybe you miss Aunt Jane’s stuffed turkey, the drive to Connecticut to visit your mom, or buying gifts for the young children (who are all grown up now!). It’s okay to mourn all these losses.
2. Realize that trigger moments may bring on unexpected waves of grief. The holiday lights . . . the sounds and smells of the season . . . the first snowfall. It’s normal for certain triggers to bring back the intense pain of grief. Acknowledge it and you will get through it!
3. Find an appropriate outlet for your grief. Journaling, painting, drawing, pottery, knitting, running, meditation . . . these are all healthy ways to work through your grief.
4. Give yourself a break. It’s okay if you aren’t in the mood for baking or decorating this year. You don’t even have to send holiday cards. Take a year (or two) off!
5. Practice self-care. All the usual healthy stuff is even more important when we are grieving. Exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep are essential!
6. Ritualize your losses. Start a new holiday tradition . . . light a candle for a deceased loved one or design a special table centerpiece. Wondering how to handle the “empty chair” this year? You can create a family ritual by inviting both young and old to decorate the chair. Ask for suggestions and be creative!
7. Decide in advance how you will handle the holidays this year. Maybe you can continue with the usual traditions, but maybe it’s time to make some changes. It can take several years to find a “new normal” for the holidays. Discussing ideas with your family ahead of time will help alleviate anxiety.
8. Give and Receive. Volunteering your time to help others is a great way to step outside of your grief for a moment. While it is good to give, it is also a blessing to receive. Accept help from others in your grief. It’s okay to let them know what you need. They want to help but often don’t know how.
9. Forgive Others and Forgive Yourself. Forgiveness is not about condoning bad behavior or forgetting the past. It’s about letting go of the burden we carry around when we stay stuck in regret and resentment.
I hope you find some of these tips helpful and receive the gift of hope and healing this holiday season.
I’m sure you have your own ideas for surviving the holidays in the midst of loss. What are some of the ways you’ll be coping with grief this year?
Grieve Well . . . Live Well