The holidays can be a vulnerable time for people who recently experienced a painful life event. Grieving during the holiday season is an unfortunate and painful reality for lots of people. While these times are intended to be spent joyously with family and friends, it can be difficult to feel like you’re in the holiday spirit if you are still coping with a grief event. So, you may wonder how to start managing this grief around this time of year. Here are a few simple tips for managing your grief during the holidays:
Put Yourself First
The holidays are a time for giving, and we often find ourselves thrust into selfless roles around this time. However, for those managing grief during the holidays, it is important to remember to put yourself first. This can manifest itself in a variety of different ways. Be clear with family and friends if attending an event as a result of your grieving will be too much or uncomfortable. Lean into your emotions and do not shy away from feeling your grief, as your own emotional process should be at the forefront of your decision making. We may feel inclined to do things for others or attend events simply because we should, but you must make sure this is the right decision for you. Check in with yourself frequently, ask the hard questions, and make the decision that is best for you, not just those around you.
Grief is a complex concept that is not universal. Everyone experiences grief in dramatically different ways. So, being communicative with those around you during the holidays is necessary to ensure proper healing. Being communicative can be something as big as asking for help with the grieving process or something as small as ensuring your loved ones don’t mention whatever is causing you grief. You may feel like a tradition should be altered, or a seat at the table should be left open. Whatever it is that will help make the holidays easier for you, communicate it to your loved ones and ask for their support.
Create New Memories
The holidays are a time for creating memories with those you love. It can be easy to have the holidays remind you of a loss of a loved one or another grief event. However, utilize the holidays as a help, not a hindrance, for your grieving process. If a loved one always served a specific role (passed out presents, said grace, etc.), use this opportunity to teach a younger person how to do this and let them fill the now-vacant role. Encourage your family members to start new traditions while honoring the past. Give new and younger members of the family a chance to shape the holidays how they want to and create new, meaningful memories for the future.