It’s frustrating and painful when you crave the good old holidays. Back when you weren’t dealing with the loss that this time of year now represents.
Hot chocolates just aren’t as sweet, movies aren’t as heartwarming, and time spent with family can feel more draining than joyful. While grief can turn a holiday season from bright to “blah”, there’s still a lot you can learn and take comfort in this winter.
Let’s talk about how to cope with our sorrow this season.
Drop the Pressure of Meeting Everyone’s Expectations
When we grieve, every day is different. Some days we feel like ourselves again, and some are colored gray with sorrow. Unfortunately, the world around us goes on at the same pace. This can make us feel rushed to grieve before we’re ready.
This holiday season, remember that every invitation is just that—an invite. Not an obligation. Know your limits and then respect them: say no to events that are draining, and push yourself to go to ones that actually pique your interest.
We should all allow ourselves some wiggle room, too. There’s nothing wrong with attending an event to get some face time and then leaving early.
Come Up with a Way to Remember Them
Ignoring grief will only extend its stay with us. Some find it helpful to intentionally honor their loved ones in ways that feel special to them. Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas:
- Raise a toast to them at dinner, sharing stories from their life.
- Light a candle in their memory.
- Share a moment of silence together.
- Honor them with a new Christmas tree ornament.
- Shop “for” them by sponsoring and shopping for a family in need.
Cry It Out, If You Need To
The holiday season hits us with images of couples ice skating together, families going on ski trips, and friends catching up at our old hometown bar. When we’re grieving, it’s important that we don’t compare our lives to our peers’. They’re experiencing a normal holiday season. Our lives shouldn’t look the same. Therefore, we shouldn’t shame ourselves for missing out on some of the normal holiday traditions.
Adjust your traditions this year. Turn the annual sledding outing into a backyard snowman building competition. Enjoy a hot chocolate at home instead of at a winter festival. And sometimes, simply drop the holiday effort and cry it out.
Delegate Their Previous Seasonal Responsibilities
Grief can be frustrating when reminders of our loved ones are everywhere. Maybe they were the ones who did the holiday cooking, hung the lights, or organized the gift exchange. Whatever their job was in years past, we can get ahead of it by sharing it with another family member.
Being surprised when a piece of the holidays is “missing”, only makes things tougher. Some families find it helpful to implement new holiday traditions, so there’s a positive change to balance out the memories.
Keep a Strong Support Network
Coping on our own is tough, so it’s important that we have a strong support network at this time. Sometimes it can be nice to talk to someone who remembers their life, too. We can also share stories about their life with our friends who didn’t know them as well. Let yourself lean on these people right now, as grief often couples with loneliness (especially in the winter).
If you’re looking for another listening ear this holiday season, please consider PTSD therapy. Contact my office to start counseling today. Together, we can discover more tools to help you cope with the holidays and beyond.