It is that time again when we are plummeted into darker days and twinkling lights. Holiday season is upon us. The hustle and bustle of shopping and preparing has infiltrated our cities and towns. This can be a beautiful and jolly part of the year, but it also can be an incredibly challenging time of year for those who are living with grief. Here are 9 ways to survive the holidays when living with grief:
1. It is important to first acknowledge that the holidays will be different following a loss, and likely will be difficult. Denying this reality will lead to guilt, shame, and likely more difficulty. It is okay to acknowledge where you're at.
2. Make a plan and stick to it.
3. Decided where you want to hold the holiday celebrations. It may be important and cathartic for you to hold the holidays just like before the loss. It may also be important for you to change things up. There is no right or wrong answer, just make sure to make a conscious decision.
4. SAY NO. It is OK!! To say no to holiday parties, events and gatherings. This doesn't make you a bad person, friend, family member etc. this means you're taking care of yourself. This is not only okay, it's healthy!
5. Ignore people who tell you what you "should" or "shouldn't" do during the holidays. It is vital that you listen to yourself and trust that you're doing what is best for you. Communicate with family and friends what works for you and stick to that. Setting boundaries while navigating this difficult time is vital.
6. Remember that it is okay to experience happiness and joy. This in no way diminishes the love you have for the person you're missing. Guilt doesn't need to show up to this party. Guilt implies we have done something wrong, and embracing joy isn't wrong.
7. Be cautious around alcohol. This can be a slippery slope while we are grieving and celebrating holidays. If a party is getting out of hand with the drinking, it's ok to head home.
8. Stay off social media if this helps you. It can be challenging to engage or watch others post about their holiday celebrations while you're grieving. It's ok to put down the social media for a bit.
9. Do something for YOU. No, this isn't selfish. We cannot pour from an empty cup. Find ways during this time to recharge and refuel. Take some quiet time for yourself. Journal, meditate, listen to music or a podcast.