Coping with Grief during the Holidays

Helpful hints for surviving the holidays:

Acknowledge grief work as real work

Adjustment to the death of dying of someone close to you does not simply come with time. The work of grief demands that you deal with all the feelings that loss engenders. This work takes psychic and physical energy that can leave you unable to deal with the extra demands of the holiday season.

Allow yourself to merely be human

Avoid perfectionist expectations during the holidays. Let some things slide and enlist in the aid of others.

Plan ahead

Sit down with your family and friends ahead of time to discuss and decide those activities, experiences and people that make the holidays special for you. Decide to do a few special things with a few special people, not everything with everybody.

Set limits

Tell your family, friends and yourself now – and continue to remind them – that you are on a stress reduction diet this holiday season. You will not be over-doing, over-shopping, over-cooking, over-complying, or over-worrying this year.

Change “should” to “wants”

Be aware of your own statements to yourself. Are you saying “I should do this or that?” Decide which of your “should” you really “want” to do and make those your priorities. Remember, you should not “should” yourself; there are enough other people doing that already.

Strive for a balanced lifestyle

With all the parties and demands of the holidays, it is difficult for anyone to get enough rest and exercise. It is easy to overindulge.

  • Set exercise as a priority – it is an antidote to depression
  • Learn relaxation techniques – they are an antidote to stress
  • Don’t overdo the eggnog – alcohol is an antidote for nothing.

Tell others clearly what you want and need for the holidays

  • Do not be shy or embarrassed to let others know what you want from them in terms of emotional support, help or sharing.

Honor the old/create the new

The memory of your loved one will be with you this holiday season no matter what you do. Consider honoring or acknowledging them in some way.

Celebrate Life

It seems like an impossibility for someone in grief to find joy and peace at any time, but especially during the season for joy and peace. This is your challenge. Life is worth living only to the extent that we make it so. Survivorship means more than merely surviving; it meals fully living. Search for the living path for you and start now.

Create your own memorials

Some ways to create your own memorials are:

  • Buy a holiday plant or tree
  • Make a toast to honor your loved one
  • Purchase a memorial candle and light it each morning or evening
  • Place a single flower on the table in honor of the “presence” of your loved one
  • Observe a moment of silence or prayer before the meal
  • Spend some time together as a family with the family album
  • Tell a favorite story at the table about your loved one
  • Buy a gift for the home, in honor of your loved one.
  • Decorate your home with fresh flowers, berries or other products of nature.
  • Create Luminaries to line your sidewalk or driveway.
  • Make a donation to a charity in the name of your loved one.
  • Make a shadow box filled with special items that beloved to your loved one.
  • Create special mantel arrangements using items that beloved to your loved one.
  • Prepare a photo album of past holidays or events and make for each family member.
  • Drink a toast to the future and embrace the past.
  • Be gentle with yourself and ask for help when you need it.

 

Information provided by Hospice of the Valley