Grief Hope Network recognizes that grief during the holidays is unique and especially challenging. As part of our online grief support, we’d like to share some ideas for coping with grief from a professional and fellow Grief Hope member who has walked in your shoes. Here is an excerpt from the book, Stunned by Grief by author and friend, Judy Brizendine. www.stunnedbygrief.com
The holidays are challenging when facing the pain and uncertainty of grief. These are times to take special care of yourself.
Pay particular attention to what will nourish you this year. Don’t be pressured by what you think you should normally do, or what others think you should do.
Decide ahead of time to do only those things that you feel up to doing. If that means not going somewhere you typically go for a holiday celebration, or not entertaining others at your home, or not even decorating as usual for Christmas — then acknowledge that you’re just not up to doing those things this year — and don’t let guilt overtake you. Give yourself permission to scale down or simply make changes!
The first Christmas after my husband died, I couldn’t bear to think about decorating my home for the holidays. For some reason, the thought was uncomfortable, even distasteful to me. You may feel differently, and if you do, that’s great! But my point is that you should do whatever feels comfortable for you, regardless of what other people may think. You must take care of you!
After my husband died, my family and I tried an idea that made the holidays a bit less difficult for us. We decided to skip our normal traditions and do something entirely different.
We changed our ‘get togethers’ for the first holidays and several later ones — and changing how and where we celebrated — made my husband’s absence less glaring. Our expectations for the gatherings changed. Of course, we didn’t forget that he was not there, but his absence was less obvious since the setting was not usual for us. We talked (and even laughed) about him because he was on our minds. You may think this idea seems silly, but I challenge you to try doing things in a different way than before and see if it’s helpful for you, too. You can settle into new traditions as time goes on.
Think of at least one person you’d like to spend time with, and something you would look forward to, and make a simple plan before the holidays arrive. Give yourself something to anticipate. Plan an enjoyable outing or activity, especially for you.
During grief, our first thoughts (especially during the holidays) turn to whom or what we have lost. I challenge you to remember the good things you still have in your life. Focus on your blessings — and your attitude (and emotions) will change…
At Grief Hope Network, we recognize that doing whatever feels comfortable for you is key in the grief recovery process and value this recommendation from the article.
Many people don’t feel comfortable in sharing their feelings with people they don’t know in traditional counseling sessions. As part of your online grief support, you can reach out to other members and professionals at www.GriefHopeNetwork.com for Help for Today & Hope for Tomorrow.