Rebecca Helman, MSW, LICSW, Director of School Based Programs, Gosnold Behavioral Health
The holiday season, often portrayed as a time of joy and celebration, can be particularly challenging for those experiencing grief. Whether it’s due to the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or even significant life changes like the relocation of children. Here’s a guide to navigating grief during this period:
Understanding the Nature of Grief During Holidays
Grief doesn’t adhere to a calendar. The holidays can amplify feelings of loss and loneliness, making it crucial to approach this time with a plan for managing these emotions. Acknowledging that the season might be different this year is the first step towards coping.
Enhancing Self-Care Practices
Self-care is vital during this period. It’s important to maintain or even increase your self-care routines to build up a much-needed reserve of resiliency. Try not to let holiday activities disrupt your routine, which might include:
- Prioritizing good nutrition and sleep
- Engaging in physical activities like walks
- Making time for connections with friend and/or family
- Sticking to support group schedules without letting holiday obligations interfere
The Importance of Connection
Building a support system with people who have had similar experiences can be incredibly healing. Sharing your feelings with those who understand can provide comfort and foster a sense of community.
Let Go of Old Traditions and Start New Ones
You do not have to do everything the same as in past years. Let go of traditions or gatherings that do not feel comfortable for you. For instance, if you traditionally host a big party but have recently lost your job, perhaps offer a lower cost celebration like meeting for a hike or to enjoy a free holiday concert.
Remember Those Who Are Not Here
There are many ways to remember someone who is no longer with you. Consider making a donation in their name to a charity or preparing their favorite treat and sharing the recipe with others. Remembering and acknowledging the good times keeps your loved one present in your heart and mind.
Supporting Someone Who is Grieving
Often, we hesitate to mention the loss, fearing it might cause more pain. However, being available to listen and acknowledge their feelings can be immensely helpful. It’s not about finding the perfect words but about showing that you are there for them.
Seeking Professional Help
While sadness is a natural aspect of grieving, prolonged periods of intense grief might require professional intervention. If you or someone you know struggles to cope with daily activities due to grief, it might be time to seek help. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Resources for Support
Several organizations offer support for those dealing with grief. Some valuable resources include:
- Massachusetts Center for Unexpected Infant and Child Death: http://www.magriefcenter.org/home
- The Children’s Room, offering grief support for children and families: https://childrensroom.org
- Support After a Death by Overdose: https://sadod.org
- Herren Project Grief Support Groups: https://herrenproject.org/grief-support-group/
The holiday season can be a difficult time for those grieving, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Through self-care, connection, and support, it is possible to find moments of peace and meaning during this challenging time.