COPE HEALING TIPS FOR HOLIDAYS

The end of each year, especially the holiday season, is often difficult for grievers. There is a focus on spending time with family or friends or participating in rituals and traditions.  For the griever, it is hard to think of ending a year without the person who died and/or feeling the deceased’s absence at special events. Here are some tips that grievers can keep in mind while trying to cope with the overwhelming nature of the holiday season.

  1. Be flexible with your plans

Your plan A or usual ritual may not be what you want to do this year. Some take comfort in participating in traditions but it’s ok to change plans or incorporate new activities into holiday observances or celebrations. Volunteering with an organization, donating to a cause your special person loved, and going away on a trip are just a few of the ways you can change your usual holiday plan.   

  1. Boundaries

Be honest with yourself and think about what you are willing or able to commit to during this season. There can be pressure to accept invitations to dinner, holiday parties, and outings. If accepting an invitation, it’s a good idea to let your host know that you may change your mind about attending the event or may choose to leave early. If you don’t feel supported in your plans, this may be a good indication that an event is not right for you right now.

  1. Incorporate your loved one when possible

Grievers can feel the hardest part of the holiday season is the ‘togetherness’ of family and friendship groups. The absence of a special person can loom large. It’s ok to honor your current feelings and the way in which you want to grieve.  Sometimes this includes cancelling holiday plans and other times it involves remembering the deceased through a variety of ways. Leaving a seat at the dinner table, lighting a candle in memory, and sharing stories about the deceased are just some of the ways you can honor your special person.  

  1. Self-Soothe and Self-Care

Coping with grief is necessary throughout the year. Self-soothing acknowledges our need for comfort, warmth, and pleasure, and self-care allows us to acknowledge our need for self-respect and self-connection. Whatever you choose to do, be intentional about pausing and taking care of yourself on any given day. Small things like a warm shower, cup of tea, or watching your favorite television show can help you feel more at ease. A long walk, turning off your phone for a bit, and fitting in a nap are just some of the things that can be good for the body and mind.

During this time, remember to be gentle with yourself. Whether writing your feelings and thoughts, allowing tears to flow, or meditating, remember to take stock of what is coming up in your grief. If you’re reading this to support someone grieving in your life, you can help by reminding the person of the above tips. You can also aid them by recognizing and supporting that the holiday season may be different this year, and likely for years to come. Help in the ways you can and allow the space to make changes.

Wishing you a holiday season of peace, hope, and special memories that bring you joy.

Rashida Sanchez, MA, LMSW, FT