Here are more tips on how to enjoy the holidays while also honoring your loss. Remember, the holiday season can be one of the most challenging times of the year for those grieving.
- Feel your grief. Our most basic nature is to approach pleasure and avoid pain. Yet, our more evolved nature can contact pain if we know there is an ultimate benefit in doing so. Our natural resistance to the pain of grief can create more pain.
- Be purposeful in remembering your loved one. Be intentional about scheduling time during this hectic season to approach your pain. Create rituals that represent the unique relationship you had to the one who died, such as listening to his or her favorite music or reading a favorite poem.
- Do something intentional. Light a candle or ring a bell to mark this time of remembering and reflecting. Visit the cemetery or mausoleum if that provides a connection for you.
- Choose healthy distractions. In a season fraught with overindulgence’s, be aware of the risk of numbing the feelings of loss through unhealthy escape behaviors. Also, know that it’s not possible to stay in the emotional intensity of grief without some relief, so permit yourself to engage in healthy distractions.
- Don’t stay distracted. The key to a healthy distraction is a behavior that allows you to pause your feelings for a moment. This allows you to come back and be truly present to them later. My ritual of watching holiday movies has served me well over the years.
- Find an accountability partner. Reach out to a trusted friend if you’re concerned about harmful escape behaviors during the holidays. Ask if you can be accountable to them for these behaviors. Then ask if they will participate with you in healthier activities that provide you with some respite from your grief.
- Go through the steps. My professional training taught me that grief is a series of steps and stages to work through, which will lead to a conclusion called closure.
- Remember there isn’t a finish line. Through my grief and by working with so many who mourn, I have come to understand that grief is an ongoing narrative of love. It is not an emotional finish line to be crossed.
Read more tips on how to to enjoy the holidays while also honoring your loss on the next post.