As the holiday season looms, many of us turn our thoughts to family and friends. This can be particularly difficult when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. It can trigger sadness, loneliness, loss, and anger.
Planning and preparing for the holidays requires a lot of energy. Be aware that grief can often drain you of that energy. Sometimes we feel a pressure to “do” the holidays, the way we have always done them. Bear in mind, it is absolutely okay to do things differently—it might be just for now or it might not. The number one thing is to be gentle with yourself.
Decide as a family or on your own what would make these 2017 holidays meaningful. Be aware of the pressures and demandsand realize that you are under no obligation to do what others expect. Consider planning some “down time” to regroup, as needed, but be careful not to isolate yourself.
Here are some ideas to cope with the holiday season and navigating your grief.
You can take care of yourself:
• Try to remember what you have as well as what you have lost.
• Take note that the anticipation and worry about the holidaysis usually worse than the actual day itself.
• Plan for what you want to do and what you don’t want to do…it is your choice. You do have some control.
• If you are planning for your family, decide what is right for you all NOW…talk about how it can change next year if you all choose for it to.It can help to stay focused on the present.
• Start a new holiday tradition. It could help symbolize moving forward. It could also be an acknowledgment of the depth of your loss.
• Make a list or two: remember when you are grieving, your memory and concentration may still be impacted, so use the tools you have to compensate.
• Remember that tears and sadness for the lossare to be expected, but it does not have to ruin the joy that can also be experienced. It’s just more complicated.
• Express to others what you want or need during the holidays. They likely want to help, but don’t know how.
• Share holiday tasks and responsibilities.
• Do something for someone else…perhaps honor those you grieve with a charitable donation. This can help you get unstuck at times.
Take care of yourself around the holidays:
• Get plenty of rest
• Get plenty nutrition
• Get some kind of physical activity or exercise daily
• Avoid excessive alcohol or drug use
• Stay connected with others
• Allow yourself to laugh
• Remember, just because you always have, doesn’t meant you always have to.
Here’s an event this holiday season that could help, hosted by us and our good friends at NAMI:
to schedule an appointment with Robyn Strelitz, LMFT, call 512-434-0868.