The holidays are often a difficult time for those who are grieving. In a season that celebrates joy and giving, it can be hard to be present when our heart is aching.
Individuals and families that are grieving may need extra support during holidays. If you are grieving, or you are in the role of offering support, we hope the following suggestions will help:
Take care of yourself first.
It’s okay to take a break from the season. Plan a trip away. Pare things back and do less. Let family and friends know you need and/or want to be alone this year.
Do what feels right.
No one says the holidays have to be a big event. If you want to do something smaller, quieter, or skip a tradition, or make new traditions, you have that right.
Make use of memorials.
Stories, pictures, and a candle are great ways to honour a missing loved one and keep them in the holiday.
Ask for help.
Often we put stress on ourselves to meet assumed expectations. Asking for help can reduce stress and burnout and allow those around us a way to support when they may otherwise feel helpless.
Remember the grieving children.
Children and teens anticipate holiday delights even when they are grieving. Engage family and friends to take care of preparations that may be too difficult, like Christmas shopping, gift wrapping, decorating or cooking.
Have a “signal”.
When attending holiday events, a predetermined signal with your companion can “it’s time, I’m done” and help facilitate a quick exit.
Allow yourself time.
You may not realize how much energy it takes to be part of the holiday season. Give yourself time to unwind after stressful activities.
Choose who you spend time with.
Spend time with those who will give you the space and compassion you need as tough moments arise.
Songs, smells, traditions may be too hard at this time. It is okay.
Turn off or limit social media.
Social can spark feelings of not being able to keep up with everyone else’s holiday plans and festivities. It is okay to opt out.
For additional for you, your family, or those you care for, Pilgrims’ Grief Services may help.