Five Tips for Coping with Grief During the Holidays. For people who are grieving, the holidays often bring a mixture of emotions and feelings. During this time, it is important to do only what feels right to you and your family. Here are five tips for coping with grief during the holidays.
1. Plan ahead.
Bereaved individuals who experience the most difficulty with the holiday season are those who have given little thought to the challenges they may encounter. Consider what may be expected of you, both socially and emotionally, as well as your own preferences.
2. Make changes if you need to.
Your circumstances have changed. Expect to make necessary alterations in holiday plans to accommodate those changes. Consider changing your surroundings, rituals and/or traditions to diminish stress. Give notice to family and friends that this year things may be different.
3. Accept your limitations, and trim down to the essentials.
Grief consumes most of your available energy no matter what the season. The holidays place additional demands on your time and emotions. Plan to lower your expectations to accommodate current needs. Limit social and family commitments to suit your available energy. Shop early or shop online. Re-evaluate priorities and forego unnecessary activities and obligations.
4. Ask for and accept help, and inform others of your needs.
Chances are loved ones are looking for ways to lessen your burden. Allow those who care about you to offer their support in concrete ways. Accept offers for assistance with holiday shopping, decorating, cleaning, cooking, etc. Be specific with them about your preferences and desires, and keep them up-to-date when those needs change.
5. Learn to “play it by ear.”
There is no concrete formula for learning to deal with loss, but it helps to become more flexible and accepting. Accept the fluctuations that may occur when walking in unknown territory. Learn to take each moment as it comes, and allow room for changes in your mood and perspective. You are the foremost authority on what it best for you, and your needs may legitimately change from day to day. Allow yourself the privilege of limping until your wounds heal and you can learn to run again.
If by chance you find yourself enjoying the holidays, do not feel guilty. Having a good time does not mean you have forgotten your loved one. You cannot change the past, but you can take care of the present to help you heal for the future.
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