16 Tips to Help You Get Through the Holidays While You’re Grieving
Grief and the emotions that accompany the loss of a loved one is a harrowing experience, and during the holidays it can seem like an overwhelming ordeal. Celebrating at a time when we are experiencing deep pain seems callous and pointless. The noise and activity that are part of the season can seem shallow and jarring.
Life as we knew it has changed and that in turn requires us to make adjustments. We may need to reevaluate our attitude toward the holidays and decide how involved we want to be, as well as modify old traditions or establish new ones. Being prepared and understanding what to expect can help minimize stress and get us through the holidays. Below are some suggestions.
acknowledge your feelings
Give yourself permission to feel whatever you are feeling. Don’t assume you have to feel or behave a certain way. Tears can be a healthy release.
Prayer and Praise
“Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any joyful? Let him sing psalms.” (James 5:13)
God is faithful. He knows your pain and is holding you through it. He writes and posts Bible verses in highly visible areas that speak of God’s love and mercy, such as: Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:18, and Psalm 145:14. Praise lifts our hearts and glorifies God. Read Psalm 34:1 and 1 Timothy 1:17.
Take care of yourself
Adequate rest and a healthy diet are important. Know your limit and don’t push yourself to do more than you can. Say no to activities that are more than you can handle. Take some time to be alone and spend time in prayer and meditation, take a walk, read a book or listen to soft music.
If you need to buy gifts, consider shopping online. This allows you to shop at your own pace and at a time that is convenient for you without the noise and demands of a busy mall. Gift cards further simplify the process and most people enjoy receiving them.
Limit Christmas decorating or avoid it altogether. If you want to put up some decorations, ask a friend or family member who understands your situation for help.
If you’re used to entertaining, you might consider limiting the number of guests to include only family and/or close friends or consider skipping the entertainment altogether and accepting invitations instead.
Invite family and friends to share their memories of your loved one out loud or consider hanging a stocking or having a special box available where guests can leave their comments.
Ask for help
Getting help and support from others who understand your situation will make a big difference. Tell others what you need most, whether it’s someone who listens to you or someone who helps you with a task.
Join a complaint support group. It will help you realize that you are not alone in your pain. Listening to the experiences of others and learning what has helped them can encourage and comfort you.
Helping others can help take the focus off of yourself and your pain. Places like nursing homes, homeless shelters, and hospitals welcome volunteers. Helping a friend or family member who is struggling can be just as beneficial.
Comparing your family to other families is pointless and can lead to frustration. Each family is made up of unique individuals. Find what works best for your family and celebrate with that in mind instead of trying to copy others.
Remember that others are also grieving
Other people are grieving the loss of a family member or friend along with you. They need your support as much as you need theirs. Asking how you can help and being available is important to them and to you.
join for what you got
Although it may seem like it at times, your loss is not the entirety of your life. Consider the blessings you can still enjoy (ie faith, friends, family, job, home, health, etc.) and appreciate them.
Know that you will survive
As painful as the loss is, you will survive. You will also spend the holidays and when you do you will be stronger and you will be able to help others.
Keep in mind…
You don’t have to enjoy or even participate in the festivities. And you certainly don’t have to pretend to enjoy them. On the other hand, it is equally allowed to participate and have fun. Allow joy to happen naturally. The most wonderful gift you can give someone you love, even someone who is no longer with you, is to live your life fully in God’s abundance.
Keeping a journal can be a way to get and stay in touch with your feelings. Write as much or as little as you want. Even a sentence or two will help keep you focused and give you perspective.
Whether you choose to celebrate the holidays in a new way or choose to celebrate the holidays altogether, keep in mind that life is full of new possibilities. Even changes that we don’t invite or want to happen can be opportunities to grow and explore new avenues that we might not otherwise have considered.