Are you struggling with grief over losing a loved one? Keep reading for five helpful tips.
1. Expectations. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself during this holiday season as you grieve. Allow yourself to mourn and don’t avoid mourning for fear of upsetting others. Expect that exposure to the holiday season and its rituals will impact you in different, perhaps even unexpected ways. You may experience unexpected grief resurgences of varying intensities or you may not. Make certain that you have outlets for your grief. Take time alone and/or with trusted friends and family members, as needed, to be with your grief. Grief resurgences in response to the sudden, expected awareness of a loved one’s absence are a natural part of the survivorship experience and can be triggered by exposure to anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and other festive occasions.
2. Traditions. It’s been my experience that survivors contend with their first exposure to the end-of-year holiday season by embracing tradition (engaging in familiar holiday rituals) or making a radical departure from tradition (spending the holidays out-of-town, for instance). If you plan on embracing tradition, feel free to cut back, if needed, on the amount of time and energy you spend purchasing gifts, decorating your home, preparing meals, attending holiday gatherings, and so forth. Assess your own energy level to determine how much exposure you can handle at any time and adjust accordingly.
3. Communication. Speak with your family members and friends concerning your needs and how they can assist. Ask for their accommodation and understanding.
4. Memorialization. There are many different, creative ways of memorializing your deceased loved one during the holiday season. Incorporate these into your holiday regimen where appropriate.
5. Education. Community Grief Support is hosting several “Hope for the Holidays” community seminars on November 6, November 13, and November 20. Click on the individual dates to find more information on each of the seminars.
-Steve Sweatt, LPC-S/LMFT
Clinical and Co-Executive Director