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Coping With Grief and Loss During the Holidays | Ways to Heal and Take Care of Yourself

Coping With Grief and Loss During the Holidays | Ways to Heal and Take Care of Yourself

Grief is the first step to healing, so, embrace that feeling even though it's uncomfortable.

2020 has not exactly been the best year for many of us, but thanks to Christmas, it does bring a little joy to a rather dull surrounding. However, for anyone who's suffered from the loss of a loved one or is going through a difficult time due to illness, the holidays can be quite overwhelming, filled with anger, pain, fear, and every other negative emotion that can be identified.

Being surrounded by happy people who sometimes seem oblivious to your sadness, the celebrations, and the laughter can become too much to handle. So much so, that we might even find ourselves falling deeper into the pit of misery. According to Very Well Health, it's not just the holidays that can be triggering. Any occasion that can induce memories of the past can turn out to be stressful for someone who's already going through pain.

Source: Getty Images | Photo by Maskot

However, there's always a silver lining to everything that happens; so, here are a few ways that can be helpful to deal with such situations:

1. Set healthy boundaries for yourself during holidays

Certain events like the switching on the decor together or some traditions might bring about a wave of painful memories. So, understand that it's absolutely alright to say no in such situations even if there is pressure from the family because you don't always have to please everyone, according to Psychology Today.

Some events can surely help you feel better, but you are not obligated to stay for the entire event. Basically, be aware of your feelings at all times because it's important to find a balance between engaging in an event and pushing yourself too far.

2. Plan ahead on how you'll spend the days

During gatherings, you can expect negative feelings creeping up, making you question how everything is going to be. So, to deal with such scenarios, create simple plans to get through the days. Driving to an event on your own or asking a trusted friend to accompany you is a great escape plan as you'll be in control of how much time you want to spend there. Because you're aware that you're in control, the experience would be more fluid and enjoyable.

3. Get in tune with your negative emotions

Feeling both negative and positive emotions during the holidays is expected. So, it is important to acknowledge them instead of avoiding them because grief is the process by which one heals. Understand that all feelings can coexist inside you, for example, it's okay to miss your loved one while feeling happy around others who're still present there with you. Remember, never feel guilty about feeling happy.

4. Don't stop yourself from honoring memories

Honoring the ones who're not there with you anymore by practicing traditions they made is a way to keep their memory alive. Whether it's dancing to their favorite song, preparing a dish that they loved, lighting the candle around the Christmas tree before you open presents... all of this will definitely remind you of your precious ones, but it will also be a reminder of the love that will never fade away.

Source: Getty Images | Photo by Maskot

5. Find ways to break old traditions and create new ones

According to The Psychology Group, one should not be afraid to create new traditions. Sometimes, a little change in doing something out of the ordinary might feel like you're not performing a certain tradition like the way your loved one did, but, it's okay to modify it according to the new phase in your life. You can deal with the guilt that accompanies the change as time passes.

6. Do charitable work

You might be drowning in grief but there's always something you can do to make others feel better which in turn will help you recover. Performing acts of kindness like providing food or blanket to the homeless or even giving candies to the kids in the orphanage can help bring back your positive emotions.

Source: Getty Images | Photo by wera Rodsawang

7. Allow yourself to feel your emotions

Stop judging yourself based on the emotions you feel. When you see everyone dancing around the room, you might feel like sitting in a corner and crying your eyes out, and that's fine. However, there are ways in which you can manage them like going out for a walk, deep breaths, focusing on the music that's playing, saying positive affirmations, etc. Even after all of this if your tears feel like flowing... let them.

8. Ask for help whenever required

Never be afraid of asking for help if you feel like you're struggling through the holidays. Whether it's a loss no one else would understand, an illness that is going to stay with you for a lifetime, or a temporary phase that you're going through, all of these complicated feelings can be sorted out with the help of a professional and people who care about you.

Feeling apprehensive is normal during the holiday season because let's face it, it's not always merry. Allow yourself to feel grief but make time for the loved ones around you as well (only if you want to, no pressure). Most of all, don't forget to be kind to yourself and your emotions while you remember all the sadness you're enduring.

Source: Getty Images | Photo by Justin Case

Disclaimer: This article is based on insights from different sources. The views expressed here are those of the writer.

References:

https://www.verywellhealth.com/getting-through-the-holidays-1132547

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201512/how-deal-grief-during-the-holidays

https://thepsychologygroup.com/how-to-cope-with-grief-during-the-holidays/

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