Bright shining lights, the twinkling sound of bells, uplifting music heard on every street corner — for many, the holiday season is a joyous time of gathering together with family and friends to celebrate the passing of another year. However, for some, the happiness associated with the holidays can be more of a burden than a blessing. Grieving during the holidays can be especially difficult, surrounded by countless others determined to enjoy festivities and cheer. If you find yourself dreading the holidays this year, know that you’re not alone.
Grieving during the holidays can be challenging, but there are a variety of support systems and grieving methods that can help you overcome the intense emotional struggles associated with losing a loved one — especially during the holidays.
Family can be an essential form of support during the grieving process. This holiday season, seek out the stability and comfort that connecting with your family can provide. It’s important to have a clear and honest dialogue about your emotional state with the people surrounding you during the holidays. Discuss shifting responsibilities — if it’s normally your task to prepare large quantities of cookies but grief has you feeling immobile, communicate that obstacle to your family. It can be challenging for some to ask others for help but relying on the loving assistance of your family can truly help relieve some of the burdens you feel while grieving during the holiday season. Let the special people in your life know how they can support you to alleviate some of the grieving pain.
Experiencing happiness following the passing of a loved one can occasionally feel guilty —how can you imagine being happy when those who have passed are no longer around to enjoy the good times with you? An important step of the grieving cycle is releasing negative guilt associated with grieving and instead focus your attention on neutrally processing your emotions and bittersweet memories. It’s okay to feel sad during the holidays —and it’s okay to feel happy too. Allowing yourself the freedom to participate in some of the festive merriment is a perfectly natural step of mourning a loss and moving forward towards closure.
Guilt doesn’t just come from experiencing happiness when grieving during the holidays —for some, attempting to force happiness can cause even more guilt to occur. Nobody wants to feel like their grieving is ruining the joyous holiday atmosphere. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that the holidays don’t necessarily ensure automatic happiness, despite what the songs and commercials promote. For many, the holidays are a stressful time filled with anxiety due to meeting family, party-planning, and all sorts of hectic issues. You can also take comfort in the fact that you’re not the first one to lost someone special during the holiday season. Countless others have faced similar challenges and similar emotional struggles as you and have successfully processed their trauma during a holiday mourning period.
The holidays are a season of tradition, ornamentation, and memory-making. When dealing with grief, combine your mourning process with a new tradition to honor the memory of those who you’ve lost this year. There are a variety of unique, subtle ways to intertwine the joyful routines of the holidays with the natural grieving process. Some effective methods of mourning and memorizing during the holiday period include:
Mourning and grieving aren’t exclusive to just people who have passed; pets are also an enormous part of our lives —and our hearts— and losing them during the holidays can be just as damaging. The holidays can feel empty and bare without your loyal pet by your side every moment. Keep your animal companion with you at all times with one of these various methods of mourning and remembrance.
The overwhelming festivity of the holiday season can make it challenging to cope with the passing of a loved one and the natural mourning process; however, grief doesn’t have to overshadow the entirety of your holidays. By allowing yourself to process emotions, seek out support, and start new traditions in memory of the departed, you can slowly start to find the closure you require —and deserve— while grieving during the holidays.