Navigating Life's Journey Blog
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A weekly blog from the Family & Consumer Sciences Department
Tips for Grieving During the Holiday Season
Grieving the loss of a loved one is a deep and difficult challenge at any time. The holiday season can magnify your sense of loss and mourning. If you are mourning a loss of a loved one this year, here are some important things to keep in mind.
- Only do what feels right. It's up to you to decide which activities, traditions or events you can handle. Don't feel obligated to participate in anything that doesn't feel doable.
- Accept your feelings — whatever they might be. Everyone takes his or her own path in grief and mourning. However you feel, accept it. Try to stay in tune with your own highest truth and you will know how to get through the holiday without judging yourself or others.
- Call on your family and friends. Talk with loved ones about your emotions. Be honest about how you'd like to do things this year — if you want to talk about those who have passed, then do so, and let others know it's OK.
- Plan ahead. Sometimes the anticipation is worse than the actual holiday. Create comforting activities in the weeks approaching a holiday so that you have something to look forward to rather than building up a dread of the pain the holiday could bring.
- Scale back. If the thought of many holiday activities feels painful, overwhelming or inappropriate this year, cutting back may help. Do whatever feels safe and comfortable to you. Create realistic expectations for yourself and others, but above all be gentle with yourself.
- Acknowledge those who have passed on. When we are grieving a loss of someone very close to us, it can be helpful to participate in a related holiday ritual in his or her memory. Some ideas: lighting candles for them, talking about them, making a card or writing a letter, displaying their picture or placing an item of theirs among holiday decorations.
- Do something different. Acknowledge that things have changed; indeed, the holiday will not be the same as it was ever again. Accepting this will help manage expectations. Many families return to their usual routines and rituals after the first year, but some enjoy incorporating their new experiences permanently.
- Skip it. If you feel that it will be too much for you and you'd like to simply opt out of participation in a holiday, let family and friends know. But plan alternative comforting activities for yourself and let someone know what you will be doing.