Grieving Through the Holidays
If this holiday season is the first since experiencing the death of someone close to you, you may be saying to yourself, “I don’t want to be of good cheer” – and that’s okay. Grief is “sticky”. It attaches, not just to you, but to times and places. Instead of holiday traditions bringing us “comfort and joy,” they stir up memories and trigger emotions that also bring up pain and sadness.
If this resonates with you, here are thoughts and reflections, courtesy of Garrett Walkup, RVNAhealth Spiritual/Pastoral Care Coordinator, that may help.
There is no right or wrong way to celebrate a holiday after the death of a loved one. If an occasion or tradition is too painful, don’t do it. If you need to minimize decorations, that’s okay too. But know that it’s okay to create new traditions -- making new memories does not erase the old ones. It is okay to embrace both new and old.
When it comes to you, take care of yourself -- don’t neglect eating, hydration, exercise, and sleep. And be kind and gracious to yourself – acknowledge that grieving consumes your physical and emotional energy. Embrace your emotions – it’s better to welcome waves of emotion than try to hold it off. And when you do find yourself smiling and enjoying yourself, don’t feel guilty – these are signs of healing to your soul!
Having a support network can be very important. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with items such as shopping, meal prep, or getting a ride. And try to identify one person you can be your real, raw, and authentic self with.
Finally, when making plans with others, plan ahead and create boundaries. Grief can cause a certain brain fog – make lists and prioritize for what you need. And it’s okay to leave early, arrive late or say “no” to engagements. Be flexible with your social commitments.
We at RVNAhealth hope you find peace and joy for your spirit this holiday season.