Living life after the loss of a loved one is always challenging. Just functioning during normal daily activities can be hard enough when everything reminds you of them. Introducing holidays into the mix can be even more devastating while you work through the stages of grief. It doesn’t matter whether your loved one passed suddenly or had declining health over time, it’s always difficult.
Although time will make special moments easier eventually, finding strategies to cope until then is very important. You’re not alone in the way you feel, although grief can be isolating. Here are five tips that will help you get through the holidays after losing a loved one.
See a professional.
It’s tempting to sit alone with your grief, but not allowing yourself to mourn or work through your feelings can seriously impede your healing. Why make grieving harder than it already is? Talking to a grief therapist can make you feel validated and less lost during this time of hardship.
Coping strategies that work for others might not be successful for you. You need to see a therapist that takes into consideration the top research on grief and mental health as well as your specific needs. If you’re seeking NYC therapy, the Therapy Group of NYC can offer you an individualized treatment plan that works for your life and history. Their treatment is data-driven and personalized. Setting up an appointment is easy, because they provide help and guidance along the way.
Your friends and family are sure to be happy to listen to you, but an experienced therapist can help you find a way forward. Learning to live and navigate big events, like holidays, will take some time. With a therapist by your side, you’ll always have someone to talk to and lean on for support.
Acknowledge your loss.
It’s tempting to try to bury your grief and not acknowledge the elephant in the room. This will make the holiday even more stressful for your friends and family. Acknowledging the difficulty of the holiday, instead of putting a front up, will help your loved ones talk about their own feelings.
By addressing what’s actually happening in everyone’s heads you might be able to find some time for laughter and joy while you reminisce about old memories. That’s not to say there won’t be tears, but it’s better to be unified during this time than allowing tensions to run high. Grief can present itself in different ways in different people. Try to extend grace to everyone during this time and be open about your feelings.
Honor them symbolically.
You can’t bring your lost one back, but finding a way to honor them symbolically could help you feel like a part of them is still around. You could light a candle next to their photo on the mantle, set a place for them at the dinner table, or just carve out time to tell stories. Making this a new tradition could help you transition into a different way of celebrating the holidays.
Communicate boundaries with friends and family.
Some normal parts of festivities might just be too painful this year to participate in, and that’s okay. If you know decorating the whole house will be too hard, then skip it or only do a fraction of what you usually do. Be clear with your friends and family about what you know will trigger your grief. Ask them to respect your wishes during this time.
Be patient with yourself.
Time will heal. Eventually, the holidays won’t be as much of a burden anymore. Give yourself the time to work through your grief. Being mad at yourself won’t make you feel any better during this already difficult period.