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/