It’s that special time of year again. The holiday season is upon us. This is a season we look forward to spending time with family and friends. We can take the time to reflect on the beauty of the lights and colors of the season. We develop a sense of urgency and anticipation as we search for that special gift for that special someone. It is a time when all seems to be right with the world. But for many among us this season of glee is but a stark reminder of what is loss. For those struggling with grief and loss the concept of joy to the world seems incongruent to their present state of being. Some may smile and go through the motions of the holidays in order to appease and met the expectations of others. Others may withdraw in order to avoid the difficult and conflicting emotions they may experience. If you have lost a loved one or knows someone dealing with grief this holiday, my hope is that these suggestions can help you cope with the difficult time in life:
- Don’t be afraid to communicate. All too often the individual dealing with grief doesn’t want to talk about their feelings. There is misconception that ignoring the feelings will make them go away. Nothing can be further from the truth. Unfortunately, ignoring grief may lead to the grief manifesting in other ways such as, physical symptoms, anger, or depressive disorder. Feelings are real and must be addressed. If you find it difficult to speak with a friend or family member, speaking with a therapist to help navigate the complexity of the grieving process may be warranted.
- Do what you love. This concept sounds pretty simple but often during time of grief we forget self-care. We forget the simple joys of life we experienced before the loss of our loved one. Take time to do what you love. This can serve as a gentle reminder that life does go on as you are establishing a new normal.
- Honor your loved one. This is often a very difficult moment in the grieving process. When we lose someone, they do not cease to exist in our minds. Their influence upon our lives is still felt. It’s important to acknowledge that in a healthy manner. For example, my mother died in October of 2011. There is not a day that goes by that do not think of her. Initially after her death the holidays were very difficult for me. My sisters and I decided we would make a dish of my mom’s using her recipes every Thanksgiving and Christmas. This tradition helps me to feel close to my mother and it acknowledges her influence on my life.
Grief and loss is very difficult. It is important to recognize that you are not alone, there is light and life at the end of the tunnel and you can get through this.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!
Alicia Lurry MA LPC