Holidays are supposed to make us think of words like “thankful,” “merry” and “happy.” But for some of us, the holidays are a painful reminder of a loved one’s absence—a hole in our hearts, a hole in our lives, and of being broken and in pain.
During the season when grief and the holidays collide, it’s OK to acknowledge grief and joy. Both are a part of healing.
When we embrace grief, give it a voice, allow our pain to surface, and we can experience healing and transformation.
You may be thinking, “Really? How!?” Here are some ways to use the holiday times to heal:
- Start with You. Be kind to YOURSELF: Remember the oxygen mask goes on you first. Give yourself the gift of permission to just “be.” Ask for what you need … I know personally this is easier said than done, but let’s try, OK?
- Eliminate unnecessary stressors: Watch out for being “too busy.” You really don’t have to do it all. We need balance between being busy and talking about or feeling our grief.
- Having down time is OK: This takes practice for some of us. It can also be scary, when the thoughts and feelings come. But know this is OK, because you need to let those feelings come.
- Feel your feelings and express them! No grief, no healing. KNOW grief, KNOW healing. We love; therefore, we grieve.
- Break the silence: Speak your loved one’s name(s), as often as possible. It’s better to create an atmosphere of connection through sadness versus alienation by pretending everything is OK or fine. Remember, everyone feels sadness.
- Tweak traditions: It’s OK to change things up, to not do something you’ve always done or to do something new.
- Implement a 15- or 20-minute rule: Go out but give yourself a time frame – and remember if you’re grieving, your energy level is already tapped.
- Exercise: MOVE around.
- Drink lots of water: It’s important to stay hydrated. Flush out toxins like excess cortisol (the stress hormone that contributes to not being able to concentrate, focus, and leads to you feeling run down).
- B-R-E-A-T-H-E: Do some 4×4 breaths.
- Know/remember that healing is a process, a journey: It takes time. Think of an actual wound. Did it heal instantly? Did it ever get re-injured? Most importantly, know that you aren’t alone on this healing journey!
- Practice personal grief rituals: These are activities that help us remember our loved ones. They give us a sense of connectedness, healing and peace. You can buy a special candle and light it in memory of your loved one; get a vase (or an ornament) and fill it with “memories” of your loved one; plant a bush/tree/flowers; hang a wind chime; journal; make a scrapbook; have a balloon release; have a burning of bad memories or regrets; remember something funny and laugh. It’s OK to laugh and have a good time even when we’re grieving.
These suggestions are for YEAR ROUND holidays, since there are holidays every month. By taking care of you, you heal.
If you would like more, check out these 64 tips from What’s Your Grief.
As you navigate grief and healing during this season, please know that I’m here for you, too. Feel free to reach me at 210-757-9428 during business hours, or you can email me.