The Holidays are often a difficult time for those who are actively grieving and those who continue to mourn over the years. In a Season where we are expected to be joyful and giving, it can be hard to be present when tears are flowing and our heart is aching.
The message that this time of year needs to be “picture perfect” and we should “dry our tears and be happy” can be just too hard when our minds are on our loved ones who have died.
At Pilgrims Hospice, we advocate that individuals and families who are grieving need extra support at this time of year. 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 a smaller event, or skip tradition, or make new traditions, go right ahead.
• Make use of memorials to honour anyone who is missing from your celebration. Stories, pictures, and a candle are great ways of keeping them in the holiday.
• Ask for help. Often we put all the stress on ourselves to meet a high expectation. Asking for help is a great way to reduce stress and ensure that the holidays go with minimum burnout. This also helps those around us feel they can actively help at a time when they may feel helpless.
• While children and teens grieve, they still anticipate and hope for Christmas. 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” with those closest to you when attending parties or events – if the gathering becomes too difficult, you have the right to leave and a signal to those with you that’s “it’s time, I’m done” will help facilitate a quick exit.
• Allow yourself time to unwind after stressful activities. You may not realize how much energy it takes to be part of the holiday season.
• Spend time with those who will give you the space and time you need, and provide compassion when the tough moments appear.
• Recognize triggers – songs, smells, traditions that may be too hard at this time. Minimize as much as you can.
• Turn off or limit social media that may spark feelings of not being able to keep up with everyone else’s holiday plans and festivities.
For additional support at this time of year for you, your family, or those you care for, don’t forget to check our website for Upcoming Events, Grief Services – Adult and Grief Services – Children, Teens & Families