Loss and grief are some of the most powerful emotions we can experience and during the holiday season, symptoms of grief that have previously relented, might suddenly return. Such is the case with many clients I treat. For some, grief is new, for some their loss has occurred years earlier. Either way, the truth of loss is that we are never truly finished with grieving when someone significant to us dies. However, (and my clients challenge this!) there are many ways to live with the loss without suffering from it. Here are some suggestions to manage grief during the holidays:
1 – Create rituals and memorials of your loved one. It is helpful to draw on your personal spiritual and cultural beliefs to guide you in the creation of a meaningful remembrance. For example, one client put up a “Chicago Bulls” tree in honor of her son, who was an avid fan.
2 – Meditate by intentionally remembering both the happy and sad memories. Avoidance rarely works and leads to more suffering. Set aside time and space to do this meditation-either journaling, listening to calming music or looking at fun pictures shared with your loved one.
3 – Draw on your support system. Reach out to friends or others who share your grief and let them know this is a difficult time for you. Attend an event with them or just spend time with friends as a diversion. Isolation creates more suffering.
4 – Reconnect with a therapist or former grief group. Re-entering therapy for a session or two can aid in reminding yourself of tools used in grieving. Or just simply processing what you are experiencing with a professional can be helpful. Attending a grief group often helps as well.
5 – Change holiday gatherings to limit painful reminders. Maybe it’s time to gather for a breakfast instead of a traditional dinner that your loved one was the focus of. Having gift exchanges on a new day or omitting them and volunteering for a charity in behalf of your loved one can be very healing.
Using the above suggesting can decrease suffering. Of course there will always be a void when someone you have loved so much is no longer seen on
a daily basis, but many have found every year hurts a little less than the year before, and as one client stated ” I try not to focus on my own individual pain and try to focus more on the fact that those I have lost are no longer hurting”. Thinking about it that way can bring more comfort and solace.