For those living with grief, the Christmas season can be especially difficult to navigate.
If you’re a widow, widower, have children who have lost someone close to them or a parent who has lost a child - I’m talking to you furry baby moms and dads - this article will hopefully provide you with some relatable advice.
By this point in December you’re probably feeling pretty wiped out.
On top of all of the usual Christmas items on your list that you need to check off like shopping, wrapping, baking, delivering, and trying to get a good night’s sleep - which is something that alludes me almost every night - around the world we’re dealing with a new COVID variant and having to socially distance from our friends and family once again.
It’s a lot!
Last Christmas was the first for us as a family of three. In February of 2020 my husband Adam died of brain cancer.
In roughly the same amount of time that the world has been living through a pandemic, our family has also learned to move forward with grief.
As a Resilience Explorer, I spend a lot of time speaking with people who are admired for their positive mindset and have learned strategic takeaways.
This list will provide some helpful advice for those coping with grief during the holidays, as well as friends and family wanting to help them.
When you have lost someone special, there are many special days that are hard to manage, but none as much as the holidays. Everywhere we go we are surrounded by messages of merriment and joy. Prepare yourself for the triggers that lie ahead.
Begin new traditions
Some old traditions are great to hold onto, but it’s also okay to start new ones. Include your children in a craft by stringing memorable photos to a garland. Spend time doing something that’s meaningful for you and your family.
During the holidays there are many charities that need volunteers. Not only will you be helping yourself by doing something nice but you’ll also be helping many others too.
Tap into virtual communities
BetterHelp and My Grief Angels are great go-to resources that help people living with loss to feel less alone during the holidays. BetterHelp offers professional counselors through messaging, chat, phone or video calls. This year, My Grief Angels is hosting a Christmas Day online support group.
Unplug on Christmas Day
The thought of being amongst others may seem overwhelming. There’s nothing wrong with staying at home and doing what brings you comfort. Try turning off social media, don’t watch holiday movies (the Hallmark channel is full of deceased family member story lines) and do something that brings you calm.
Those close to a grieving person can sometimes feel helpless, but they are looking for ways to support them. If this describes you, here are some tips:
One of the best ways to support a loved one who is hurting is to ensure that they are given license to speak uninterruptedly and that you listen with intent. Do not interject or take the focus away from them. Remember, you are there to help.
During this time, surround yourself with the things and people you hold dear, and who are empathetic to your wellbeing.
However you spend the holidays, I wish you good health and peace.