Getting Through the Holidays

BY: Karen Kincaid PCC-S

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah! 'Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la la la la la! For many "merry, happy, jolly" are far from the feelings they are experiencing at the holidays. 

"How can I be happy when I've lost the most important person in the world? How do I go on, let alone rejoice when I have nothing to celebrate?"

Getting through the holidays is as individual as our grief. When we experience loss, it is normal to be sad. Your grief may take more energy than you would ever imagine. You may have trouble thinking, remembering, organizing and making decisions.

It is important to communicate your needs to family and friends. Only if they know can they offer you the support you need. Family and friends do their best to keep us happy, but sometimes joyful is not exactly what we want to be. Maybe you're looking for quiet time to reflect and remember, or maybe you would prefer to gather with specific people rather than with a large group. 

If you've been the one who organizes the holiday celebrations maybe this is the time to delegate that responsibility or ask for help. Comfort may be found in continuing old rituals—or this may be a time of creating new ones. Sometimes people like to bring out all the memories of the loved one—or sometimes it can be too painful.

It is important to make a plan ahead of time. Make a list of shoulds and wants and pick and choose what you want to do. This will eliminate the chaos and the last minute running and stress often associated with the holidays. Some things you may want to include in your list are:
  • I predict that the most difficult parts of the holiday season for me will be:
  • My support people (those who can hear my grief) are:
  • The most difficult people to be with might be:
  • These things may trigger my grief:
  • Words that would be helpful for me to hear would be:
  • Last year (or years), prior to my loss, I celebrated the holidays by:
  • This year I want to include the following traditions in my holiday:

Don't be afraid to turn down or limit the invitations you accept, but be gracious and gentle when explaining your need to decline. Patience, allowing enough time for you to do and feel, and giving and receiving lots of hugs can be the best gifts of all. So instead of "happy" and "merry," I wish you a holiday season of peace, comfort and love.

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