16 Tips to Help You Get Through the Holidays While Grieving

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16 Tips to Help You Get Through the Holidays While Grieving

The grief and emotions of losing a loved one is a traumatic experience, and during the holidays it can seem like an overwhelming torment. Celebrating when we are deeply grieving can seem callous and pointless. The noise and activity of this season can seem superficial and jarring.

Life as we know it has changed, which in turn requires us to adjust. We may need to reevaluate our attitudes toward the holidays and decide how much we want to be involved, as well as revise old traditions or create new ones. Being prepared and knowing what to expect can help reduce stress and get us through the holidays. Here are some suggestions.

admit your feelings

Allow yourself to feel what you feel. Don’t assume you have to feel or behave a certain way. Tears can be a healthy release.

Pray and praise

“Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing hymns.” (James 5:13)

God is faithful. He knows your pain and supports you through it. Write and post prominently Bible verses that speak of God’s love and mercy, such as Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:18, and Psalm 145:14. Praise lifts our hearts and glorifies God. Read Psalm 34:1 and 1 Timothy 1:17.

take care of yourself

Adequate rest and a healthy diet are important. Know your limits and don’t force yourself to do things beyond your capabilities. Say no to activities that are beyond your capabilities. Spend time alone, spend time in prayer and meditation, go for a walk, read a book or listen to soft music.

Shopping

If you need to buy a gift, consider shopping online. This allows you to shop at your own pace and at a time that is convenient for you, without the noise and demands of busy shopping malls. Gift cards simplify the process even more, and most people love receiving them.

decoration

Limit holiday decorations or skip it entirely. If you want to place some decorations, ask a friend or family member who knows your situation to help you.

entertainment

If you are in the habit of hosting guests, you may consider limiting the number of guests to close family and/or friends only, or consider not hosting guests at all and accepting invitations instead.

share memories

Invite family and friends to share their memories of your loved one out loud, or consider hanging a stocking or having a special box for guests to leave comments.

Request for help

Getting help and support from others who understand your situation can make a big difference. Tell others what you need most, whether it’s someone to listen to you or someone to help you with chores.

seek support

Join a grief support group. It will help you realize that you are not alone. Listening to other people’s experiences and knowing what has helped them can encourage and comfort you.

make change

Helping others can help take the focus off yourself and your pain. Nursing homes, homeless shelters and hospitals welcome volunteers. Helping a friend or family member who is in trouble can also be helpful.

stop comparing

Comparing your family to other families is futile and leads to frustration. Every family is made up of unique individuals. Find what works best for your family and celebrate with that in mind instead of trying to imitate others.

Remember that others are grieving too

Others join you in grieving the loss of a family member or friend. They need your support as much as you need theirs. Asking how you can help and being there to help is important to them as well as you.

be happy with what you have

Despite what it may seem like at times, your loss is not the whole of your life. Consider the blessings you can still enjoy (i.e. faith, friends, family, work, family, health, etc.) and be grateful for them.

know you will survive

As painful as the loss is – you will survive. You also take the holidays, and when you do, you are stronger and able to help others.

remember…

You don’t have to enjoy or even join in the festivities. And you certainly don’t have to pretend to like them. On the other hand, engaging and enjoying yourself is equally permissible. Let happiness happen naturally. The greatest gift you can give to those you love, even those who are no longer with you, is to live your life out in the fullness of God.

consider writing

Journaling is a way to know and understand how you feel. Write as much as you want. Even a sentence or two will help you stay focused and give your point.

Whether you choose to celebrate the holidays in a new way, or choose to forgo celebration altogether, remember that life is full of new possibilities. Even changes we didn’t invite or don’t want to happen can be opportunities to grow and explore new avenues we might not otherwise consider.

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