Grief during the holidays can be mixed emotions of happiness and sadness. For those people who have lost a loved one this time of year can be especially hard. I wanted to share some tips on how to make it through the holidays while dealing with grief.
I started my blog and my instagram account to help others who are dealing with grief or going through a hard time. I also created my Caravan Community page to share other peoples stories and remind those who are going through a hard time that they are not alone. You can read their stories HERE.
Why grief during the holidays can be hard
A holiday is a day set aside to celebrate an event or tradition of cultural or religious significance. We don’t go to work or school, and the world shuts down for the day. When life stops and we want to celebrate, we turn to our family. The holidays are centered around family and friends. They come with fun traditions and food, but its not really a holiday without our family to celebrate it with.
This is why grief during the holidays can be so hard for someone who has lost a loved one. Everything is centered around families and that reminds us of our own family. I’m reminded that my kids won’t get to see their dad cook a turkey on Thanksgiving morning. They won’t get to have their dad take them to see Christmas lights or pick out a tree. There are so many traditions I won’t get to celebrate with my husband and it makes it incredibly hard to be happy sometimes.
Thanksgiving was Justins favorite Holiday so it’s always hard for me to make it through the day. I think about all the foods that he loved to eat. I think about how he wanted to have our own Thanksgiving so we would have all the leftovers to ourselves. All those memories come rushing back in and you find it hard to make it through the day.
I wanted to share how I’ve been able to handle grief during the holidays. Hope it helps.
How to handle grief during the Holidays
It’s okay to set boundaries for yourself. You can participate and not participate in whatever feels right for you. If you don’t want to attend a Christmas party then say no. It’s okay to say no! If there is something that sounds fun and you want to participate in, thats great. You can always go and leave early. You want to find a balance between doing things you want to do, but not pushing yourself.
Be gentle with yourself:
This is the most important one of them all. Be kind to yourself as you navigate grief during the holidays. Take time to yourself to feel the grief if you need to. Grief comes so unexpectedly so when it does come take time to feel it and go through the emotions.
Ask for and be willing to accept help:
If you are a widow/single parent and you’re not sure how you will buy all the gifts for Christmas or make the food for Thanksgiving please ask for help. There are so many people close to you willing to help and waiting for you to ask for help. As a single parent you still want to make the Holidays fun for the kids even though you are struggling to get through. Let friends and family help!
Surround yourself with family and friends:
This is such an important one for me to do. I find that I get the most depressed when I’m alone and I start to feel sorry for myself. I make sure to do all the holiday activities with friends and family. I plan ahead and invite friends to do things with. This really helps make me feel less alone. I love knowing my parents will always be there with me on holidays so I don’t have to be alone.
Make more appointments with your therapist:
If you know the holiday season is going to be extra hard dealing with your grief, schedule more frequent appointments with your therapist. The first year after my husband passed away was especially hard for me and I made sure to schedule more appointments. There was a time I was really struggling and my next appointment was a week away. I called and went in the next day because I knew I couldn’t’ wait another week and I would feel better after my appointment.
The first year after my husband passed away was the hardest. The first Thanksgiving and the first Christmas was a struggle to get through. If you find yourself not being able to do it, SKIP IT! There is no one saying you have to go to your friends Christmas party, or buy Christmas gifts for all the niece and nephews, or make the Christmas cards. Be gentle with yourself and put your needs first.
Do the traditions your loved one loved to do during the Holidays:
This can be a happy way to deal with grief during the holidays. My husband lived in Germany for two years and we love making all the German food. When I’m with his family this is always a fun way to remember him and makes the holiday season a little easier to get through. Try and do their favorite traditions and make their favorite holiday foods. This is a great way to keep their memory present.
Plan ahead to fill those empty roles. My husband was the turkey guy and loved making turkey on Thanksgiving. Plan ahead and ask someone to do that for you. Planning ahead can avoid unnecessary moments of grief and can help make the experiences more fluid and enjoyable.
Don’t feel guilty:
Don’t feel guilty for not getting the Christmas tree up. Don’t feel guilty for going to a restaurant on Thanksgiving instead of making it yourself. Don’t feel guilty for skipping the holidays. Please be gentle with yourself. Do what is best for you and make time to feel the grief. Make time for yourself.
Share this with a friend going through grief
I hope this will help make grief during the holidays a little easier. If you know someone who is dealing with grief please share this post with them!