Navigating the Holidays without our loved ones can be incredibly challenging, whether it’s the first season without them or many years later. Dealing with grief during the Holidays requires a delicate balance, especially when cultural expectations emphasize joy and celebration.
At Hospice of the Piedmont, we understand the unique challenges of holiday grief and offer these coping strategies for grieving around the holidays to help individuals, families, and communities.
Set Healthy Boundaries
As you move through the Holidays, remember that it’s perfectly acceptable to establish healthy boundaries. Empower yourself to say “No” to traditions that no longer serve you, and consider leaving events early if they become overwhelming. Discussing an exit strategy with your support system beforehand can also be beneficial, providing a safety net for challenging moments. Lastly, remember that it’s also okay to change your mind at the last minute when making plans during the Holidays.
Create a Plan for Dealing with Grief During the Holidays
Engage in open conversations with those you typically spend the Holidays with, working together to develop a plan that accommodates the needs of those grieving. Consider expressing your expectations in advance, and be willing to adapt your schedule based on your emotional well-being. It’s alright to limit or change activities that may have been enjoyable in the past but now evoke difficult emotions.
Finding ways to honor your memories can be a meaningful part of navigating grief during the Holidays. Explore rituals or practices that pay tribute to your loved one by incorporating old traditions or creating new ones that celebrate their life. Sharing memories through activities like preparing their favorite holiday food or recalling funny moments can provide a sense of connection.
Reflect with Grace
Allow yourself moments of reflection, comparing past Holidays with the present, and acknowledge the complexities of this journey. Show compassion and grace to yourself and others during this time. Acts of kindness, such as participating in a food drive, can uplift your spirit and contribute to the healing process during this time of holiday grief.
Accept All of Your Feelings
Acknowledge the fluctuation of emotions associated with grief during the Holidays, embracing both moments of joy and sadness. It’s perfectly acceptable to experience a range of feelings and to seek extra support when needed. Grant yourself the space to navigate the Holiday season without expecting to be one hundred percent.
Embrace Activities for Grief
Consider engaging in activities that may aid in the grieving process. Keeping a journal to express your feelings or reconnecting with faith traditions can provide solace. Spending time in nature, staying in touch with your support system, and taking moments for self-reflection contribute to your overall well-being.
Help Others Grieving During the Holidays
When you feel ready, consider how your experiences can be a source of support for others. Grief can be isolating, and sharing your journey may help dispel misconceptions surrounding the grieving experience. Remember, you are not alone, and there is a community that understands and empathizes with your grief. Hospice of the Piedmont offers grief support groups to all members of the community, regardless of whether or not their loved one received hospice care.
During this Holiday season and beyond, Hospice of the Piedmont wishes you peace and healing. You have the strength to find what serves you and to let go of what no longer brings comfort as you navigate grief during the Holidays.
This piece was written by Jordan Phillips, Hospice of the Piedmont’s Grief and Healing Manager / Counselor