By Renee’ Jenkins, MSW – Oxford Bereavement Coordinator
The holiday season is here, and for many people, this is an exciting season. But, if you have lost a loved one or friend, this season can be painful. The ache intensifies and the loneliness can quickly overwhelm you. Here are a few suggestions to help you make the most of the holiday season, along with helping you move forward.
1. Be Good to Yourself
Sadness zaps your energy; so, don’t push yourself. You might be exhausted after a day of shopping or attempting to “make merry”. Try spending a quiet evening at home, doing something you enjoy. This may be a more nurturing use of your time, so you can stay healthy.
2. Blend New Traditions with the Old
Rituals from past holidays may magnify the sense of loss of your friend or family member. But, sometimes these traditions may feel comforting. Decide what traditions you want to repeat, and consider establishing new holiday traditions. You could take a trip to a country inn, go to church or synagogue, volunteer to help at a convalescent home or soup kitchen. It often helps to get together with a friend, who is also experiencing a loss in their life, for extra comfort and support.
3. Acknowledge your Loss
Attempting to bypass feelings requires enormous energy, and it is not a good way to heal grief. If this is the first holiday season since losing your loved one or friend, it’s important to talk with others about how you are feeling. Don’t be afraid to shed a tear to your family and friends. Acknowledging your true feelings can provide much-needed relief. One way to acknowledge your loss is to do something special. Put together a photo album of your loved one, visit the grave, light a candle for him or her, or write a poem.
4. Listen to your Inner Voice
Your instincts may tell you that today would be good day to have a friend over for coffee, or that you should skip the big New Year’s Eve bash. Pay attention to this inner voice—it’s one of the best friends you have! Intuition may lead you to the perfect person or activity for that moment, while keeping you from situations that are not helpful. This is a time to respond to your own needs, not to other’s expectations of you.
5. Make It Okay to be Alone
While isolating yourself from others is not always a good idea, there are times when solitude is vital to the healing process. During your alone times, explore new ideas on what you enjoy doing. Remember, loneliness is triggered by the idea that “everyone else” is having a good time, and you are alone. Don’t forget, you are in good company with family and friends to support you.
6. Get Help in Making the Holidays Festive for the Kids
Children, especially those younger than 13, grieve in a more intermittent way than adults. That’s why they are still excited to celebrate the holiday season. They will likely want to keep the traditions alive and enjoy the festivities. Ask your family members and friends to help provide that “holiday spirit” for the children in your family. It’s also okay to let children see your sadness. It might help them with their own grief when they see you experiencing the same feelings they are experiencing.
You are welcome to join us for our Grief Support Groups available in Southwest Missouri. You can also contact our Bereavement Department at (417) 883-7500 for more information. If you live outside of Southwest Missouri, and would like more information about a Grief Support Group near you, please visit www.griefshare.org.