Some things cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.
It’s that time of year where families and friends come together, trees are decorated, copious amounts of food and drink are consumed and the air is full of laughter. But what if you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one?
The holiday season becomes an enemy, it reminds you that your loved one is no longer here and it hurts like hell.
The holiday season does have its stresses but then add onto that, grief and you wonder just how are you going to get through it.
If we smile or laugh it is soon followed by guilt as you may feel you have betrayed your loved one. Or perhaps you are going through an emotional battle in your head of how you should be during this time.
Here are six steps to help you handle grief at this time of year.
Feel your feelings
Firstly, please acknowledge that what you are thinking and feeling is a normal reaction, the more you try to resist those feelings the more they will persist until they take over.
There is never a right or wrong way to work through grief, you just ride through it on your terms, and never allow people to dictate to you how you should feel. Be kind to yourself and permit yourself to be exactly where you are.
You will no doubt be flooded with invitations and well-meaning ‘we don’t want you to be alone this time of year’. There is absolutely nothing wrong if you decide you would rather be alone than be at a gathering that could not only overwhelm you but cause you distress.
Learn to say no
Traditions that you once enjoyed are now like rubbing salt into an open wound. If you don’t want to go then don’t, say no and do not feel guilty for doing so. If you were the one who always made the stuffing for example and it is something you did with your loved one, don’t make it this year, ask someone else to do it.
Put your physical body first
You may find your immune system has taken a nosedive, it is a well-known fact that those who are grieving pick up colds and viruses, stress plays a huge part in lack of concentration which can lead to accidents.
As hard as it is, eat well, even if little, but often. Sleep is difficult when grieving perhaps try some herbal over the counter remedy that could help you drift off or visit your doctor for their advice.
Perhaps you find yourself not wanting to talk about your feelings with friends and family, when grieving we often try to isolate ourselves as we feel we are a burden on those around us. You are not a burden, but those around you should respect your need to go your own route through grief.
There are many grief support groups than can be found via your doctor or their bulletin board and online. Perhaps talking over your feelings with a stranger is the way you would like to proceed. The Grief Recovery Institute’s handbook is also available in libraries and bookstores nationwide, or you can find free e-books on the organization’s website.
You could find yourself experiencing anger, which is a natural process of grief, all the things left undone, words unspoken and having to accept they are no longer physically here during the holiday season.
Write what you are thinking and feeling down, make a journal, read it back at times that you feel the need to remember your loved one. You will have good and bad days, journal those too, as you will then see over time that you are having more good days than bad.
You will never forget your loved one, life will adjust as will you, and you can ask no more of yourself than that.