Tips for Those Grieving During the Holidays
The holidays can feel surreal when you are grieving
As a very young mother, my first experience of deep, dark, and difficult grief came just three weeks before Christmas, when I had a stillbirth of a beautiful girl. I remember well, all these years later, what the holiday joy surrounding me felt like for that year and many others after.
I was too young then to allow myself to voice my feelings to anyone other than those closest to me, and later, when I sought therapy to deal with my loss. Yet even family, close friends, and coworkers felt the sudden need to quiet their happiness when I was around. It was a no win situation for anyone, and I felt that somehow I was responsible for stifling their holiday happiness.
My work now includes those experiencing anticipatory grief, or dealing with the recent loss of a loved one. Gratefully, our world has opened to include our emotional needs, providing much more support and help for all. Yet when our emotions don’t match that of the season, it only serves to reinforce loss and grief, even in when we are able to be open about it.
I offer some suggestions to those in grief, as well as for those that love and support them:
- Allow yourself to honor this season in ways that honor the person that is ill or has passed. Write stories, make a picture display of favorite memories. Include it as part of your family get together.
- Allow yourself to cry, to remember happier times, and to share these memories among those that you share this holiday with.
- Reach out to support groups, as a caregiver or after your loss. There are many intangible ways that you will feel supported and not alone in your feelings and experience.
- Always, honor your own feelings without question, share them with those that you are close to and seek support outside of your intimate circle. Seek professional help when you need it.
The holidays can become a special time of remembrance in these ways, and your experience will be honored by those closest to you. I always celebrate December 4th quietly, and after so many years it has become a very sacred, and special day to me. I pray the same for you, in time.