Coping with Grief During the Holidays
As the popular holiday song tells us, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Most years, you would probably agree. Even for Scrooges, it’s hard not to smile “with the kids jingle-belling.” But for those who have experienced the death of a loved one, “everyone telling you ‘be of good cheer’” is not an easy order to fill. For those who dealing with grief during the Holidays, it can seem daunting, especially stressful and lonely. “Tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago” often include memories of the loved one who has recently passed.
While it may not be easy, there are things that can be done to ease the sorrow and make coping less difficult. The National Funeral Directors Association offers the following suggestions for the bereaved to help them better cope with the holiday season:
Take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. The holiday season is hectic and can exhaust anyone, but if you are shouldering an extra burden of grief, it only makes it more unappealing. Get enough sleep, eat well, and take time out for yourself. Also, don’t be afraid to set limits. Think about what family traditions you want to take part in, and what may be too much. It is o.k. to say no to activities that may overwhelm you.
Share your memories with others. Talking about your loved ones and sharing remembrances can often help alleviate some of the pain. If it helps, take part in a memorial or remembrance service at your local place of worship or family funeral home. Spending time with others who understand what you’re going through is often a great source of comfort.
Above all, do what’s right for you. Your family and friends care about you, but they often tend to offer advice about what they think is best for the grieving process. Don’t forget to do what feels most comfortable for you. If volunteering at a local hospital or food pantry helps you heal, then seek out opportunities in the community. If stepping back from a more active role in your family’s celebratory activities is the best way, let them know. It is perfectly natural to need time and space to honor your feelings, and the memory of your loved one. But don’t forget to seek out your family and friends for support. You are not alone.