By Lee Ann walker
As the holiday season begins, many of us get giddy about pumpkin spice, shopping for lawn décor, and much-needed time off to reflect on the year. However, for others, the holidays can bring great sadness and anxiety. The loss of a loved one can turn what should be a fun-filled season into a wrecking ball in the brain and heart with deep-rooted sadness. No matter the month or day after a loss, the holidays tend to bring the most significant happiness gap. Grief is complex and complicated for almost anyone who experiences it. Grief is also a personal journey handled differently by each person. We come to accept the loss will always be carried with us. Grief is much like the ocean to a new swimmer; it can be peaceful if you are in calm water and, at times, overwhelming the deeper you get into the rising waves.
However, there are things we can do to help lessen the emotional rollercoaster you may feel as the holidays approach. Here are some helpful tips.
- Do not deny what you feel. Don’t set your emotions aside. It is okay to feel sadness. You can coexist with the sadness and the happiness that the holidays bring. To let out our feelings is healing. If you think you might want some additional support this holiday season, check out our Grief Services: https://www.communityhospice.com/services/grief-loss-support/
- Make plans and stick to them. Making holiday itineraries does not mean you need to book every moment of the holiday season with gatherings, parties, and plans, but attend ones that matter and ones that will bring you joy. Being around people is a great way to lessen the loneliness and sadness that often comes when our minds are left free. If you want ideas on new things to try this holiday season, check out our article on ideas for holiday rituals: https://www.communityhospice.com/media/1749/ideas-for-holiday-rituals-after-a-death.pdf
- Do the things that brought you joy when your loved one was with you. Don’t avoid your traditions. Doing those activities is a beautiful way to honor memories. Will it be hard, yes, but for some, this will provide healing and a great deal of comfort. Perhaps you can also create new memories and ways to honor your loved one in this process. If you are considering a new way of honoring your loved one, check out our Tree of Life Services: https://www.communityhospice.com/foundation/foundation-events/tree-of-life/
- Consider volunteering within your community. Many organizations and nonprofits need volunteers. You could become the comfort needed in someone else’s life, which could also be fulfilling for you. If you think you are ready to explore this idea, check out our volunteer opportunities: https://www.communityhospice.com/info-for/volunteers/
The holidays are not always merry, but with the right activities, they can be bright and bring some level of comfort and joy. If you find something that brings you happiness, it is crucial to allow it and know it is okay to feel happiness after and with sadness. Always be kind to yourself and take it one-holiday event at a time. There is no right or wrong way to enter the holiday season, but know that whatever you decide to do, you are not alone in this journey, and there are resources that may be able to help.