The holiday season with all of the memories, traditions, and “good wishes” flooding us nearly daily, can be almost unbearable to those who are grieving a loss. Here I share just a few tips to help you get through this time of year. But most of all I want you to know that those in Spirit ARE indeed with us as we gather with friends and family. So knowing that, why not do a few things just as you would when they were here? If you know they loved it then, then believe me they are still enjoying it now! (Just in a different way). They watch you. They hear you. They love and guide you with every breath you take, every day. Love never ends.
- Don’t isolate yourself. Yes, it may take quite some effort. But get yourself out to that holiday party. Or, if that is too much to bear, invite a couple of close friends over for tea or wine, and a small gift exchange. Take a friend or family member shopping or out for a special dinner. Being alone often intensifies feelings of grief and depression, despite your thoughts that being immersed in holiday joy would be more painful.
- Do something in memory or in honor of your passed loved one(s). Big or small, whatever the gesture is, it will be known by those in Spirit. You are likely to even feel their presence as you embark on your task. Perhaps you might hand craft a Christmas ornament with their name or photo on it, or from their clothing. (Invite friends and/or family over so everyone can make something!) Maybe you will create a new tradition or even donate some of their toys, tools, or other items to those in need this year. Your passed loved ones will be so proud of you for doing something positive in the face of loss. They cheer us on every day in every way.
- Keep those traditions! While it is also nice to create new traditions to honor those no longer with us, our spirit loves also want us to maintain the traditions we enjoy and not abandon them due to grief or because we feel we “shouldn’t be” enjoying such things in the face of loss. On the contrary, we honor those in spirit best by fully living our lives, and that includes keeping those holiday traditions we have always enjoyed. Plus, they will still join us and enjoy them too- just in a different way.
- Do something special for yourself. This includes allowing yourself time to grieve, if you have felt pressured to conceal it or are a person who has tried to stay super busy to stay distracted from your grief. Eventually we have to express our grief. It will find a way to emerge, one way or another. We have to fully feel to begin to heal. If we try to hold it in we may develop severe depression, anxiety, and a host of health issues. We need moments to “let it all out”. So go ahead. But also, do something fun, loving, or nurturing for yourself. On the theme of grief, maybe schedule an appointment with a grief counselor or join a support group. Be good to yourself. If the house will be quiet Christmas morning, for example, then sleep in. Indulge in your favorite treats–or bake them if you enjoy that. Create a “spa day” for yourself with a luxurious bath and whatever else you wish to pamper yourself with. Buy yourself a gift you have long wanted–or in the theme of spa day–purchase yourself a massage! Read a favorite book (or 3!) and catch that movie with that friend you have put off visiting for too long. You get the idea. Self-focus is self-care, and that is so important. Do things that feel good, and do not feel guilty!
These tips are not limited to the holidays of course. I hope they give you some ideas to help as you journey through your grief and healing. It’s not so much about distracting yourself from your loss; its about including your passed loved ones in the things you’ve always enjoyed while creating other positive traditions or habits that you may not have done while they were here. It’s acknowledging the loss, but in a positive way–with love and appreciation for the life they lived, their place in your life, and a promise to fully live yours. This will make you feel better, as well as delighting those in Spirit. They watch over you, and want you to be happy and embrace your life.
May peace and blessings be with you this holiday season and throughout 2019.