The holidays can be challenging for anyone — but that’s especially true if you are grieving the loss of a loved one. Sadness can magnify the stress of the season. Instead of excitement and joy, you may be feeling a little empty and lost. It seems impossible to carry on with old traditions as if nothing has changed…because the truth is, your whole world has changed.
The pandemic is likely to intensify feelings of loss as families suspend traditional big gatherings to keep the virus from spreading. Grief experts like Ellen S. Zinner say it’s never easy to face festivities with an aching heart, but there are ways to survive the holidays in times of great sorrow.
Take it easy.
When you are grieving, give up perfection and let some things go. Ask others to help you — chances are they will love being able to comfort and support you.
Avoid things that increase your stress — shopping, cooking, decorating, planning. This year, just say “no, thank you.”
Make yourself a priority.
Decide what you really want to do this year — and forget what others think you “should” be doing. Skip the parties if you’d rather stay home. You are in charge of what gets your attention and energy.
Get enough sleep. Moderate alcohol intake. Learn relaxation techniques. Exercise — it chases away depression.
Be kind to yourself.
Show yourself the same tenderness you would give a friend who is grieving someone’s death. Be patient and understand that grieving is an ebb and flow and takes as long as it takes.
Honor and acknowledge.
You will never forget your loved one. During this first holiday without him or her, find a way to honor or acknowledge the beautiful memories you will always treasure.
Hospice of the Valley has many more helpful “holiday survivorship skills” to share in its free booklet, “Coping with Grief During the Holidays.” Request a copy by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about Hospice of the Valley at hov.org.