The holidays are a joyous time of the year! We have Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, just to name a few, but sometimes it’s not such a joyous time for those who are grieving a loved one.
This time of year can be challenging for those who just lost a loved one; maybe they lost their loved ones around the holiday season, or their loved ones birthday is around this time and while grieving, this time of year can be tough because they are missing their person more than usual.
I lost my grandfather last year in August, but this time of year is hard because his birthday was in late November, and every time I hear the song “little drummer boy,” I think of him because it was his favorite English Christmas song. Little things like that remind me that he’s no longer here, and it can get me sad.
With this post, I want to give five tips you can use to help cope with grief around the holiday season.
1. Set Healthy Boundaries
This time of year is usually busier than other times because of all the festivities that come with the holidays. For example, there are Christmas showcases, plays, or concerts at kids’ schools; you have Christmas parties from church, Christmas/Holiday parties from work, or even some of your friends might throw a holiday party, like an ugly Christmas sweater party. But all these festivities can feel overwhelming if you’re going through grief, and you may not feel up to attending all of them. That’s okay! Do not be afraid to say no to attending some of them. Also, do not let anyone pressure you into doing anything you don’t want to do.
2. Plan Ahead
Knowing that this time of year is so busy and that your loved one will not be with you, you can plan ahead to help with the grieving process. One way to do this is by driving yourself to the function; this way, you’ll be able to leave when you want or if you start to feel overwhelmed. Often, the anticipation of how bad an event will be is worse than the actual event, so to help, make a plan of how you’ll get through it. You can do this weeks before the event or a few days ahead.
3. Create New Traditions
Many things done for the holidays are based on traditions, and to help cope with grief during this time, you can start a new tradition with your family. For example, maybe your loved one was the one who always placed the tree topper, but this year you can honor a new family member with the responsibility. Get creative this year and do something new, or you can also change some traditions to make them fit better with this new stage of your life.
4. Do Something Kind for Others
Nothing makes you feel better than giving back to others and the best time to do it is during the holidays. There are many places in your community where you can volunteer. For example, you can volunteer at a food bank, Salvation Army, or usually, your local church has activities where you can volunteer. You could also donate toys for kids in need, like for Toys for Tots or Operation Christmas Child. Many people don’t have homes or family members with whom they can spend the holidays, and giving back to the less fortunate is truly an amazing gesture.
5. Be Patient with Yourself
The best thing you can do for yourself this holiday season is, be patient with yourself. Grief comes in waves, and sometimes you are okay, and then two seconds later, something reminds you of your loved one, and you’re in tears. Let the emotions come, and don’t try to suppress them because experiencing the pain will help you in the long run. Understand that there is no time limit for grieving. A bonus tip I would give is to journal. Write down your feelings when they come, or write down good memories you have with your loved one to honor their memory. There is no right or wrong way to grief, as long as you are coping with it healthily.
I hope these tips will help you or someone you know who is grieving a loved one. Please feel free to share with them. Let me know in the comments additional ways you know that can help someone cope with grief during the holiday season.
I want to leave you with a Bible verse that helped me during my grieving season, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” Psalms 34:18 NIV.
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