The holidays have a way of bringing a wave of emotions surrounding lost loved ones. The reminder of them is strong as we are gathering with others we care about and noticing their absence. While these feelings might make you want to curl up in bed and pull the blankets over your head until the holiday season is over, doing that wouldn’t benefit anyone.
Grief invites us to remember, not forget. While memories can be painful, transforming that grief into a way to honor and remember that person can help to ease your pain. For example, you could light a candle, serve a favorite food, put pictures up, play a favorite song, create a new holiday tradition, play a game, or take part in another action that the deceased would appreciate.
All of Your Emotions Are Ok
Allow yourself to feel the emotions of loss. There will be moments of sadness, hard nights, and difficult gatherings. Feel free to make changes in the way you celebrate the holidays. Be open with family and friends so they are aware of your pain and can help to make it easier on you. You need support from others. It is ok to ask for it. There is no right or wrong way to work through grief.
Take Care of Yourself
Take care of you. Try to focus on eating healthy, limiting alcohol, and getting rest. All the parties surrounding the holidays can be physically draining. If you feel physically bad then your emotions will take that much more of a toll.
Don’t be afraid to have fun. It is ok to enjoy yourself. You don’t need to feel guilty or to force yourself to be sad or angry because this person is no longer here. They would want you to enjoy your life, your time. While your loved one has died, they first lived. Remember that. Talk about memories. Think about the good in their life.
Take It One Day at a Time
Be proactive in your day. Take charge of yourself, and take it one day at a time. Plan out your day so that you aren’t stuck sitting at home in the dark by yourself dwelling on sadness. Don’t let your emotions control you, and instead grab control of your life. Create balance — give yourself that time to grieve but also to have fun.
You have the choice to shed tears or to smile, or both. Be prepared for the difficult days, anticipate them, plan for them, and allow yourself to be in them. It can also be helpful to seek out a licensed counselor who can help you work through your pain and create a plan.
Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC
Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.