Grief and the Holidays
By Sara Smith, BSW
Part of the grieving process is creating a new “normal” while you navigate through life without a loved one. Birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays can prove to be especially challenging when you are missing part of what makes those days and special events important. Even after adapting to your loved one’s physical absence from your life, these hallmark events throughout the year can still be acutely painful and challenging.
As we approach the holiday season, preparing yourself for these challenging emotions and experiences can be helpful. To prepare, you may want to ask yourself the questions below:
- Where or how can you spend the holidays and feel comfortable and supported?
- Who will you spend them with? If you are not going to be with anyone, is there something you can do, somewhere you can go, or someone you can call, if you need anything?
- Have you told anyone how you are feeling about the upcoming holidays? Is there someone you can go to if you want to talk?
- Is there some way you would like to honor the person you are missing on this day? It could be as simple as lighting a candle, making a dish they would normally have made for the holiday, going around the table and saying something you remember or miss about them, etc.
- Are there other areas of your life that you can draw from? Do you practice a particular spiritual belief or religion? Are there cultural traditions that may help provide a sense of closeness to the person you are missing?
Above all else, it is important to remember that everyone experiences grief differently. What might feel right to you, might not feel right to someone else experiencing a similar loss. Be gentle with yourself. Find ways to remember and honor your loved one, while also giving yourself the space and permission to miss them and process those feelings in whatever way feels right to you. Be aware that there are people who care, and can help you if you need it.
“Grief is like the ocean. It comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”
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