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Coping with Grief During the Holidays

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The holidays are in full swing and for many of us, this time of year makes us feel joyful and full. We’re enjoying family, friends, festivities, and food, and we’re savoring all of the goodness that this season has to offer.

But for others the holidays are hard. For those of us who have lost someone, whether in recent months or years ago, the holidays can often conjure up feelings of sadness and pain. While many are celebrating a season of togetherness, the rest of us may feel the pangs of loneliness as we miss the loved ones we’ve lost.

Some of us may be in survival mode this time of year, striving to put one foot in front of the other each day. In an attempt to provide a sense of hope during this difficult time, we’ve gathered some ideas that may help make this season a little brighter for those of us who are missing special people that we’ve lost.

Find a Way to Serve

There are so many wonderful ways to serve our communities this time of year. From hosting a coat drive for the homeless community our town and collecting toys for low-income children to serving meals in soup kitchens and singing carols in nursing homes, there are a multitude of ways to give back during the Christmas season. Make a plan with a family member or friend and find an organization that tugs on your heartstrings, one that resonates with your spirit. Service provides a healing balm of sorts; while it won’t make our pain go away entirely, serving others gives us purpose, perspective, and hope.

Embrace Self-Care

The holidays are filled with parties, commitments, travel plans, and mile-long to-do lists, and in the midst of all of the busyness, coupled with our emotional pain, we can feel like we’re drowning. Take time for self-care this holiday season, even going as far as scheduling it into your calendar. Treat yourself to a massage or a great meal at your favorite restaurant; buy that new book you’ve been eyeing or play hooky from work to do something fun (or just take a nap!). Giving yourself the gifts of time and relaxation will not only thwart the stress that can come with the logistics of the holiday season but it can also provide you with the solace you need to find the emotional space to reflect and rest.

Dive into Community

In the midst of holiday chaos, find ways to intentionally connect with people who love you. Whether it’s with family members, friends, coworkers, or members of your church, make time to be with people who provide you with the comfort to share your feelings and emotions during a difficult holiday season. You can meet someone for coffee to talk about the things that are making your heart heavy, or you can simply meet a friend to see a movie, knowing that you can use the time to just be quiet but also feel reassured by the presence of someone who cares from you. Be careful that you don’t isolate yourself, as the combination of loneliness and grief can be so overwhelming. Even in the days when you may not feel like being with other people, accept invitations from loved ones to connect with one another in big ways and small.

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