How to cope with grief during the Holidays
Coping with grief during the holidays can be an overwheliming task. The holiday season has arrived and for many it will be a bittersweet experience. Just as the food and drink and well wishes of others opens our heart it also reminds us of those loved ones we are grieving.
This article from the Harvard Mental Health letter offers some helpful strategies.
Each year, more than two million men, women, and children die in the United States, leaving behind loved ones who mourn them. The holidays are often the most difficult time of the year for people who are grieving.
“If the grief is fresh, holiday cheer can seem like an affront and celebrations may underscore how alone people feel,” notes Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. The following strategies, explored in depth in the December 2011 issue, may help people who are grieving to cope with the holidays.
Start a new tradition. During a holiday dinner, place a lighted candle on the dinner table, leave an empty chair, or say a few words of remembrance.
Change the celebration. Go out to dinner instead of planning an elaborate meal at home. Or schedule a trip with friends.
Express your needs. People who are grieving may find it hard to participate in all the festivities or may need to let go of unsatisfying traditions. It’s all right to tell people you’re just not up to it right now or to change plans at the last minute.
Help someone else. It may also help to volunteer through a charitable or religious organization. Make a donation to a favorite cause in memory of the person who died.
Give yourself time. The grieving process doesn’t neatly conclude at the six-month or one-year mark. Depending on the strength of the bond that was broken, grief can be life-long. Nevertheless, grief does usually soften and change over time. With time, the holidays will become easier to handle.
Above all else, be gentle with yourself, pay attention to what is comfortable. Surround yourself with supportive and compassionate friends. It does get better. It is possible to ease some of the pain of grief during the holidays and other special occasions.
There is always “healing in the telling” and if you would like to share your story or helpful suggestions please post in our comment area.