“Holidays are time spent with loved ones” was imprinted on our psyche from a young age. Holidays mark the passage of time in our lives. They are part of the milestones we share with each other and they generally represent time spent with family. They bring meaning to certain days and we bring much meaning back to them. How are we expected to cope with the holidays when we are grieving the loss of a loved one? This is often the hardest part of grieving, when we miss our loved ones even more than usual. How can you celebrate togetherness when there is none? When you have lost someone special, your world losses its celebratory qualities. Holidays only magnify the loss. The sadness feels sadder and the loneliness goes deeper. The need for support may be the greatest during the holidays.
You can and will get through the Holidays. Rather than avoiding the feelings of grief, lean into them. It is not the grief you want to avoid, it is the pain. Grief is the way out of the pain. Grief is our internal feelings and mourning is our external expressions.
WAYS TO COPE
Have a plan A/B. Plan A may be dinner with the family, if it starts to feel overwhelming, go to Plan B which could be a favorite movie or looking through a photo album, or anything else that feels right for you in the moment. Leaving early is absolutely allowed.
Cancel the Holiday all together. Yes, you can cancel the Holiday. Many people find solace in celebrating the holidays, it gives a sense of continuity. If you are feeling otherwise just don't do it. Holidays come every year and it is perfectly fine to take a year off.
Try the Holidays in a new way. Grief has a unique way of giving us the permission to really evaluate what parts of the Holidays you enjoy and what parts you don’t. You have to decide what is right for you and do it. You have every right to change your mind, even a few times. Creating new traditions helps to lessen the loss a bit, and allows you to see these special days as special once again.
Even without grief, our friends and relatives often think they know how our holidays should look, what the family should and shouldn’t do. Now more than ever, be gentle with yourself. Don’t do more than you want, and don’t do anything that does not serve your soul and your loss.
I sincerely wish you all the best good experiences during this season. May whatever holiday you celebrate be absolutely perfect for you.
Blessings and Peace to you all,