Oscar Wilde once said memories are the diary that we carry about with us. If you are experiencing grief, memories can be either comforting or painful, and sometimes both and the holidays can be an especially difficult time of year. While everyone grieves in different ways the holidays have a way of bringing forth an overwhelming amount of sights, sounds, feelings memories, that might make it difficult to cope with.
While many are looking forward to friends and family coming and going, planning, preparation, shopping, wrapping presents, holiday concerts at school and parties for someone who is dealing with grief, these things can be overwhelming and painful. The juxtaposition of feeling empty with grief while everyone else is overflowing with joy this time of year can be difficult to manage. Here are some strategies to cope with grief during the holiday season.
Allow yourself to feel
Grief has a way of dredging forth emotions of all levels and that is ok. Recognize and acknowledge what you are feeling, it might even be different every day, and try to allow yourself to feel that way without guilt. The holiday season is often chaotic with plans and if you are not feeling up to going to an event or party you have a right to say no without an excuse. Grief is difficult and hopefully, your friends and loved ones will understand and not push you.
Be kind to yourself
Grief can be exhausting but studies have also shown it can be physically painful, the holidays might intensify your pain so it’s important to take care of yourself. If someone offers to help run an errand for you or help prepare dinner, consider taking them up on their offer. It will feel good to have an extra burden lifted off your shoulders and will most likely help the person offering feel useful. Try to do things that relax and comfort you this time of year, if you want to be alone, then honor that, oppositely, if you want to be around your loved ones, seek them out and surround yourself with their support. Consider some time at the gym or outdoors, a day at the spa, or even a Netflix binge with your favorite ice cream in hand. These things, though they might seem small can have a big impact on your mental health.
Honor the loss
There are multiple ways to honor your loved one who has died throughout the year but those opportunities are plentiful during the holiday season. Consider lighting a candle, or starting a new tradition such as buying a new special ornament every year that reminds you of them, or going somewhere special that holds memories. There is no wrong way to honor someone you love and it can be healing whether you do it alone or with a group of people.
Sharing feelings with friends and family can be extremely helpful in your grief process but sometimes it can be helpful to talk with others in a group setting. Grief support groups through your church or local community center can offer support and coping strategies from those who are going through similar experiences. Oftentimes you might walk away with a new group of cherished friends.
Pay it forward
During the holidays it seems like there is an opportunity to give around every corner and people tend to drop spare change in a bucket and move along. Consider taking it a step further and research an organization that is special to you or the person who has passed and sign up to volunteer. Studies have shown the positive benefits to our mental health and helping others while you struggle with grief can be cathartic around the holiday season and might even boost your mood.
Losing someone we love is never easy but the holidays can be extremely painful if you are grieving a loss. As difficult as it is, you will get through the holiday season and it’s perfectly ok if you simply go through the motions. It’s important to help someone who is grieving feel supported and loved during this difficult time but try not to push them into doing things if they are not ready yet. John F. Fluehr & Sons, Inc. family has been serving the funeral needs of the public for 121 years. The homelike atmosphere of our beautiful funeral home offers a spacious stateroom, handsome details and provides comfort and dignity for the bereaved. Please call us at 215-624-5150 or visit our website for more information on our services. Sí, hablamos español!