For Those Coping With Grief During The Holidays
Grief can be a confusing time during the holidays. If you’ve lost someone you used to cherish this time with, you may feel lost in the lights, music, and parties. There is. sense of conflict between the excitement of the holidays and the memories of those we’ve lost. On top of that, the holidays can feel especially lonely if you’ve recently lost someone, whether through divorce, breakup or illness.
Losses during the holiday season can feel particularly upsetting when we’re surrounded by commercials and media images of happy families. This article is to acknowledge, validate and honor all those who are grieving during the holidays.
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Grief Takes Many Forms
You might not realize it’s the grief making you feel this way at first. Instead, it might look more like crying more than usual and being unable to shake the feeling of sadness. You might not have the motivation to attend holiday gatherings. It could look like not being able to focus or panicking whenever you’re alone.
How grief takes a toll varies from day to day and person to person. You might feel fine one day, and not be able to sleep the next. You might find yourself irrationally angry with someone. Instead of dismissing these feelings, let them sit so that you can move on past them.
It’s Okay Not To Feel Joyful
With Christmas tunes everywhere singing ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” people dressed in bright colors and getting together for dinners, you might feel like you have to pretend to also be in the “spirit.” But you’re entitled to your feelings, and there is no need to put a front.
Your loved ones, whether they are present or not, should be able to support you as you navigate all stages of grief. There should be no pressure to move past the sadness until you’re ready. The holidays especially can emphasize the void left behind by those you’re missing.
The Guilt Is Normal
If you catch yourself actually feeling moments of happiness, they may follow up with feelings of guilt. You may feel conflicted between honoring the memory of those who passed and enjoying the time you have with the ones still here.
Guilt can be a common yet complex emotion in grief. You may feel guilty that you didn’t take the time to make these moments count with the person you’re missing but think of it this way. Instead, make the moments count with those still around you, and remember the person you’re missing and how they would want you to be happy.
A Physical Toll
There is no predictable timetable or pattern of how grief will affect you. While a lot of the symptoms of grief are emotional, grief also has physical effects that can make the holiday season harder. While the business of the holidays is already tiring, grief can make you tire more easily.
There is usually plenty of feasts during holiday dinners, but you might find that you have trouble eating. Other physical symptoms can range from headaches to trouble sleeping. These symptoms are all part of the brain’s response to emotion and are stress-activated during the grieving process. It’s normal for the brain’s usual functioning to be interrupted. Grief is physically changing the chemicals and hormones in your body and making you feel sicker.
No Right Way To Grieve
There is no “right” way to grieve, even if some might appear more socially acceptable than others. There is no shame in breaking down to tears in unexpected places. Our bodies are unpredictable that way. At the same time, the tears might not come at all. You might think that you’re not coping in a “healthy” way, but it’s a process.
What’s important to remember is that you are a unique person. Honor your process, and acknowledge that this is how you respond and are attempting to cope. Go at your pace.
Letting Go of Someone We Love
This may sound ironic, but as hard as grief is, some of us may hold on to its pain on purpose because it’s the only thing left connecting us to a person we’ve lost. It could take months before we’re ready to let go of the feelings tying us to their memories, even if they’re painful.
In those instances, it can be helpful to find alternative ways of holding on to the person we’ve lost. Finding new ceremonies or traditions that honor those memories can help us hold on to the good memories instead of the pain of losing them. They might even create new positive associations with that person even if they’re already gone.
The Different Kinds Of Grief
We want to acknowledge that grief isn’t limited to death. We grieve people we’ve left behind, broken up with, divorced, children who moved away, places we can no longer visit, and homes we’ve moved out from. Grief is just the feeling of loss, whatever it is that we’ve lost.
It’s important to remember that you’re grieving because you’ve loved, have been loved, and continue to love. Healing this holiday season is about embracing that love and continuing to give it.
How To Cope During The Holidays
As we said, there is no right way to grieve, but there are ways that could help you cope. Creating new traditions could help you move forward. You could also find ways to connect with those around you and the person you’ve lost at the same time.
Sharing stories with family and friends, making the person you lost’s favorite foods, and looking at pictures of happy memories can help you find a connection with them. Practice self-compassion with yourself and don’t criticize yourself for struggling during this season!
The Power Of Relationships
Our lives are made up of relationships, associations, and experiences. From our earliest attachments with our parents as children to our friends, family, and partners as adults, relationships continue to take a central role in our lives. They shape our identities and give meaning to our lives. That’s why we feel losses so deeply and why it’s important we make sure to nurture the right kind of relationships in our lives.
In any relationship, always look at how you feel and ask yourself: does this person make you love yourself more? Do you want to grow old with them?
Love is more than just kisses and butterflies, it’s much more than that. If you want to know more on what your birth chart reveals about how you love and what you need out of a partner, check out this personalized report based on your date of birth
Aria Misty is a recent university grad. She did her undergrad in media, information & technoculture with a Master in Journalism & Communications in 2018.
Aria has a particular interest in all things astrology and spirituality. This is driven by her desire to create healing. In fact, Aria went back to school for A master’s in counseling p[…]