Facing Grief & Loss During The Holidays

Grieving is difficult no matter what time of season it is - during the holidays, it can be particularly devastating.

There’s a stark contrast a lot of people feel - all of the things that would normally bring them joy this time of year are instead reminding them of the person who is no longer with them. A lot of conflicting emotions can come up: resentment toward others or yourself, worries that there’s something wrong with you, or a feeling that you’re letting others down.

Breathe. We have some strategies to help.

Expect Things to be Different

First, manage your own expectations. Expect to feel a wide array of emotions, sometimes conflicting. Expect that some days you won’t have the energy to do the things you want to. Expect that you might feel up to doing something one minute, but change your mind the next. Expect mood swings.

Expecting these things can make them more tolerable when they come up - you were anticipating them. The next step is to communicate these expectations to your loved ones, so they have a better idea what’s going on with you. Tell them that you might have to break off any plans at the last minute.

Be Honest about Your Feelings

You may have to change your holiday plans, especially if you’re usually the person who hosts festivities - cooking, cleaning, and hosting might be outside of your energy levels. Ordering delivery or takeout is perfectly acceptable. On the flipside, if you want to, feel free to host. When my grandfather died, my grandmother insisted on hosting Christmas and doing all of the cooking and cleaning. My relatives insisted she set down the work, but she insisted on continuing on - she let them know that it was helping her grieve. (This was before coronavirus affected rules pertaining to physical distancing and we’re hoping that next year, we’ll be safe to gather during the holidays again).

Create New Traditions

When the time is right, you might create a new tradition to honour your loved one. This can be something as simple as lighting a candle for them, or saying a few words to remember them by.

You might not feel like creating a new tradition right away, or ever - like everything else here, this is an optional strategy. Do what you feel is right.

Take Care of Yourself

This can be the hardest part of grieving during the holidays - you’ll have so much on your mind and on your plate, you might neglect self-care. Take a moment, every day, to care for yourself. This can be something as simple as noticing your own breath, cooking yourself a simple, healthy meal, or exercising.

There are a lot of resources available to help you do this - Nurturing Yourself When You’re Grievingis a good article to help you recognize the different ways in which self-care is essential. Our Winnipeg funeral homehas more resources - get in touch with us if you want to talk.

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