The holiday season is often a time of joy and celebration, but for those dealing with grief, it can be a difficult time.
Especially the first holidays without a loved can be really hard. It’s even harder if they had traditions you loved and enjoyed.
In addition to the first year being hard, according to a Deloitte Survey, more people plan to travel or have begun traveling during the 2023 holiday season. This is significant as for many it will be the first time attending large family gatherings since the onset of COVID-19. Which may bring up additional grief and sadness associated with visiting family due to the last several years of the pandemic.
Here are some tips to help you mange your grief.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
It's important to acknowledge and accept your feelings. It's okay to not feel happy or joyous during this time of year. Allow yourself to grieve and feel the emotions that come with it. Cry. Scream into a pillow. Journal.
If you need to take a step back from the festivities, that's okay. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing. Even if others think you should get out and socialize.
What traditions did you or your family love doing with your loved one?
Do you want to keep it as it was? It will be different without your loved one, but you’re allowed to keep traditions you want.
Or you could modify it, to make it more your own now. Maybe Grandma always made 5 kinds of cookies, and now you want to make 2 kinds of cookies.
Or maybe you want to create a new tradition all together. Keeping with the example above maybe instead of making cookies you make a fancy dessert.
Whatever you decide, it’s important to take some time to reflect on family traditions, so you can navigate the holidays a bit easier.
Honor Your Loved One
Do something to honor your loved.
Maybe light a candle for them, or cook a favorite dish of theirs or leave their spot at the table empty.
If it’s been a bit and your grief has eased, tell a funny story about them.
You get to keep their spirit and memory alive each time you honor them.
Even though it can be really hard to reach out for support, it does help.
Whether it's from a friend, family member, or professional, it's important to have people to talk to and lean on during this time.
Something as simple as a hike with friends or family might feel supportive to you.
There are also support groups and online communities specifically for those dealing with grief during the holidays. There most likely is a grief group located in your community, or place of worship.
Online forums are another place to seek support from. For example AARP has an active online forum for grief.
Remember, you're not alone in your grief, even on days where it feels like you are. Take things one day at a time, be kind to yourself, and do what feels right for you.