The holidays are here, and while it’s supposed to be a time of comfort and joy, it can be a struggle to get through the season when you’re dealing with grief. If this is your first holiday season after losing a loved one, you might already be dreading the next several weeks.
Grief is difficult and overwhelming, no matter what time of year it is. But, because the holidays tend to be centered on family and getting together with loved ones, it can hit especially hard. You’ll remember traditions you had with the person you lost, and things likely just won’t feel the same.
But it’s possible to cope with grief during the holiday season and to find some peace. The person you lost wouldn’t want you to miss out on some happiness over the holidays, so let’s cover a few healthy coping tips that can make the season easier for you.
Create a Strategy
Grief can sometimes make you feel like things are spiraling out of control. Because the holidays can often be chaotic, they can quickly add to that feeling and cause you to become overwhelmed.
One of the best ways to combat the chaos is to create a plan for the season. Focus on what you need as you sit down to develop a “strategy.” Which events are you going to attend? It’s okay to say “no” to certain things! Who do you want to see? What is going to provide the most comfort?
By prioritizing your needs and letting go of everyone else’s expectations, you’ll have an easier time getting through the season without feeling overwhelmed by the chaos of it all. You’ll still have time to grieve in healthy ways, but you can enjoy the parts of the season that mean the most to you.
Taking care of yourself can quickly take a back seat when you’re going through grief. But, it’s necessary if you want to keep healing and moving forward.
Self-care is especially important during the holidays when you run the risk of feeling burnt out and overwhelmed. Make sure you’re prioritizing sleep, spending time outside, and staying active. It might be tempting to over-indulge in all of the wonderful foods of the season, and you should certainly enjoy your favorites. But, don’t turn to food, alcohol, or other unhealthy coping mechanisms to help you get through. They are temporary fixes that will do more harm than good.
Allow Yourself to Be Flexible
Just because you have a plan in place for the holidays doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. Show yourself some grace. Some days might be easier than others. On difficult days, you might need to back out of an event or leave early.
Don’t beat yourself up for that. Grief can come in waves, and it’s impossible to predict how you’ll feel on any given day. Think about how you would treat a loved one going through the stages of grief, and give yourself that same kindness and compassion.
Talk to Someone
You might be surrounded by people throughout the holiday season, but still feel incredibly alone as you think about the person you lost.
While it’s okay to take time for yourself and it’s good to process your feelings on your own, one of the worst things you can do is completely isolate yourself from others. If you don’t want to open up to family or friends about how you’re feeling, consider reaching out to a mental health professional for help.
There is no ideal timeline for grief. You shouldn’t expect to get through it faster just because the holidays are here. If you’re concerned about how you’re going to get through the season without feeling overwhelmed, feel free to reach out to us today.