Grief is universal. It is unavoidable. It is difficult. The holidays don’t make anything any easier. Even when you are not grieving, the holidays are charged with emotions…some wonderful and gladly faced and others uncomfortable and not so willingly welcomed. The holidays are associated with hectic paces, pressures, and high cultural expectations. Remember that the holidays are never perfect so don’t put that expectation on yourself while you are grieving.

When grieving during the holidays, you may feel that you don’t want to talk about your feelings because you don’t want to bring others down. Remember, you have the right to experience and talk about your own unique grief journey. You have the right to feel all the emotions and sometimes feel them all at once. It is also important to be aware of your physical and emotional limitations. Grief work is real work and it takes a lot of energy. It is much harder to cope when you are always exhausted. With this in mind, give yourself permission to set limits with family and friends. Plan ahead for the holiday. Decide what it is you want to do. And, if you don’t want to do any of the traditional activities, that is ok. This may even be the year to start a new tradition.

Ritual, spiritual or otherwise and especially during the holidays, helps you to honor your loved one, mark your loss, and make sense of your new world. Having some method to work through loss helps the griever to feel like they have something concrete to do that reduces the feeling of helplessness. Here are a few rituals that may resonate with you. When you engage in ritual, you are committing to the loving continued bond with the person who has died.

  1. Plant a tree.
  2. Light a candle
  3. Make a special meal.

Also, please remember that it is all right to feel good. Laughing is a great way to release emotional and physical tension. You are not being disrespectful of your loved one, if you have a good time. Emotions are not permanent. Stay in the present moment and process what emotions are coming through. Staying connected with your loved one, especially on special days like the holidays, is healing. As you share your story and laugh and cry while re-telling memories, you get to spend a moment with your loved ones’ spirit. As Cicero said, “The life of the dead is placed on the memories of the living. The love you gave in life keeps people alive beyond their time. Anyone who was given love will always live on in another’s heart.”

Our Full Circle bereavement counselors are available to provide individual or group support either virtually or in-person. Please call with questions or to register: (912) 303-9442.