Handling Loss During the Holiday Season
Losing a loved one can be a difficult experience, and made even more difficult when it happens during the holidays. The holiday season is a time of the year when we are supposed to be merry and full of festivity. It might seem hypocritical, or even impossible, to try and maintain some semblance of happiness during a time of such intense grief. However, it is important to find the silver lining and get life back on track. Here is some advice for coping with loss during the holidays.
1. Don’t Isolate Yourself.
Your first silver lining: holidays are a time for family. Family will undoubtedly be your strongest support to pull you through these difficult times. There might be a temptation to shut everything down and keep to yourself as you process your grief. While you should always be conscious of your feelings and leave time to sort through them, you will want to always have people around you for support. If you are sharing grief with other family members, then spend plenty of time with them. You can help each other cope with the loss.
You might notice that your friends outside of your family will be reaching out to you to join them on various dinners or outings. While it may be tough to get yourself out of the house, you should try to be as open and active as possible during this trying time. Putting yourself out there will bring you out of yourself and allow you to experience the holidays in a fresh new setting and reduce potential triggers that can send you spiraling back into your own grief.
2. Don’t Ignore Your Grief
While you should strive to stay active during the holiday season, you should also keep in mind that too much distraction can still be detrimental your grieving process. It is important to accept the loss you are experiencing. There are several ways to allow yourself to mourn and remember the deceased without letting it commandeer your holiday experiences. If attending a family dinner, it might be a good idea to have a moment of silent remembrance in honor for the deceased. Writing cards and paying a visit to the gravesite are also good ideas to include the memory of your loved one with your holiday festivities.
3. Have a Backup Plan
It is important to understand that not everything you attempt this holiday will go to plan. If you decide to keep your holiday plans as normal as possible, you might encounter moments when the pain is too much. This is okay. You cannot expect to keep everything business as usual on the heels of a devastating loss in your life. That is why you will want to come up with back up plans for your events. Alternative plans for events, if you feel unable to go out or attend a holiday function. Plan a movie with someone close, a friend or loved one, or spend time at the gym. Having a backup plan is essential to keeping yourself active and healthy while grieving.
4. The Power of Having a Pet
For times when you must be alone, it is always helpful to have an animal companion nearby. Dogs are loyal and loving friends that can provide and endless source of joy and attention in times when you feel like you are at your lowest. If family and friends are harder to come by because of distance, you might consider adopting your own furry companion to add a little extra love in your life during the holiday season.
Losing a loved one is never easy, but it is important to look for the silver linings and keep moving forward. Although it may seem like things will never improve, understand that love will find a way back into your life, if and when you let it in.
Author: Lucille Rosetti of The Bereaved