For many, the holidays bring joy, cheer, and happiness. However, for others, the holidays can bring about grief and sorrow from the loss of a loved one. Whether it be from COVID or other causes, grief during the holidays can add additional stress to individual mental health. Although this holiday season may bring about painful reminders of the absence of loved ones, it, at the same time, can include comforting rituals where we connect with family and friends, focusing on good memories and trying to recapture our sense of joy. If you are mourning the loss of loved ones this season, here are some important things to keep in mind.
Trust in the grief process
Grief is the process by which you heal. Experiencing the pain rather than escaping from it can make you feel better in the long run. So while it may be tempting to pretend the holidays don't exist or to numb the pain with alcohol, temporarily avoiding the pain only prolongs the anguish. Eventually, the holidays will get easier, but only if you allow yourself to experience the grief of going through them without your loved one.
Allow your emotions
The holidays can bring about a wide range of emotions. You might feel joy, guilt, and sadness all within a few minutes. Allow yourself to feel those emotions without judging yourself or thinking you should be happy or you shouldn't be laughing.
Honor your memories
Create a special way to memorialize the person you've lost. Whether you decide to light a candle every night or eat your loved one's favorite food, honoring your loved one can serve as a tangible reminder that although your loved one is gone, the love never dies.
Do something kind
Even when you're in the midst of grief, you still have something to offer the world. Performing a few acts of kindness can be really good for a grieving person's spirit. Donate gifts to families in need, serve meals at a soup kitchen, or volunteer to help people at a nursing home make holiday crafts if you're up for it.
Ask for help
Don't be afraid to ask for help when you're struggling with the holidays. Reminding loved ones that you're having a rough time may be enough, but you also may want to reach out for more support. Look for support groups or contact a professional counselor to help you deal with your grief in a healthy manner.
Chrissy Teigen is an example of someone who has opened up about her grief during the holidays. She has stated that she’s been in a “grief depression hole” due to her recent loss. The way she copes is by taking a break from social media and surrounding herself with her loved ones. In one article, she emphasizes the importance of making memories with loved ones that are still with us. It’s true, because it’s not helpful for anyone when you close yourself off to people who care. It’s important that we appreciate every day and never take anything for granted. We must always express our love to friends and family and remind them that they’re important.
Berliner, T. (2019). How to cope with grief during the holidays. The Psychology Group. Retrieved from https://thepsychologygroup.com/how-to-cope-with-grief-during-the-holidays/
Lewis, K.R. (2019). Coping with grief during the holidays. Experience Life. Retrieved from https://experiencelife.com/article/coping-with-grief-during-the-holidays/
Building on last week’s topic of boundary setting, consent is the result of setting specific boundaries. To give consent means to give approval of something. Not limited to intimacy, consent can be given in all aspects of life. It’s important that we always ask for consent when requesting something of another.
Consent revolves around power over one’s own body. This can be sexual, medical, and even organizational. We know that with sex, each party should be vocalizing their consent before initiating intercourse. Consenting and asking for consent are all about setting your personal boundaries and respecting those of your partner. Both people must agree to sex — every single time — for it to be consensual.
In terms of doctor and patient relationships, consent should always be given by the patient. When medical care or treatment is provided, medical practitioners are required in many situations to obtain a patient's informed consent. A physician must tell a patient all of the potential benefits, risks, and alternatives involved in any surgical procedure, medical procedure, or other course of treatment, and must obtain the patient's written consent to proceed. It makes sense - we should have the right to choose what happens to our body and health.
From an organizational perspective, consent can be given for companies to access personal data. In this new age of technology, personal information is a valuable product that many companies are after. Whether it be as a consumer or an employee, releasing personal information must come after receiving consent. Many companies like Facebook and Google have received backlash for collecting and selling personal data without users’ consent. This caused many, including me, to stop using these platforms.
No matter the situation, being denied consent is extremely harmful and offensive. It’s as if we’re being robbed and violated of our basic human rights. If you’re not sure if a situation calls for consent, ask anyway - it never hurts to ask.
Boundaries are the limits and rules that people set for themselves in relationships and in life. Someone with healthy boundaries can say “no” when they want to, but they are also comfortable opening themselves up to intimacy and close relationships. Being able to set boundaries is essential to healthy relationships and a healthy life. If we don’t set boundaries, we can become frustrated and lash out to our loved ones.
By setting boundaries, you’re able to communicate your values with others. They characterize what kind of person you are and how you respond to others. Setting boundaries is an important part of establishing one’s identity, and is a crucial aspect of mental health and well-being. Boundaries can be physical or emotional, and they can range from being loose to rigid. They shouldn’t be so fluid, and you shouldn’t be altering them to fit each relationship. They should act as a guideline to how you approach each relationship. So, how can we start creating and preserving healthy boundaries? Here’s a few tips:
Learning to show compassion and kindness to yourself is crucial in setting healthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries can help people define their individuality, and can help people indicate what they will and will not hold themselves responsible for. While boundaries are often psychological or emotional, boundaries can also be physical. Don’t be afraid to explore different boundaries and see what works for you.
Selva, J. (2020). How to set healthy boundaries. Positive Psychology. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/great-self-care-setting-healthy-boundaries/