Coping during the Holidays

An Empty Chair

Happy Holidays! Happy Thanksgiving! Part of you wishes it all would go away. Inside you wonder how anyone can be so happy and joyous when you have such an empty feeling of loss inside. During this time of year it seems as though there are intact families everywhere---even on television, in magazine ads and on holiday cards. They all seem to be joyfully celebrating the holiday and each other. Dealing with the holidays when you have a death of a member of your immediate family is difficult. There are times when you may feel you are consumed with grief as you face a very empty chair at your table. You become painfully aware of the terrible hole in your heart and in your life. Instead of it being a time of family togetherness, sharing and thanksgiving, the season can bring feelings of sadness, loss and emptiness. Thoughts begin to run through your mind about what we will do and how will we spend the holidays.  Will we put up decorations?  Will we sing songs and visit friends and families?

Here are some suggestions to help you cope during the holidays:

  1. Be kind and patient with yourself: Grief is exhausting and consume you; sometimes your emotions seem to come out of nowhere. There is a song, memory, scent that can trigger grief outburst. If you need a break, take one. If you need to cry, cry. It is important to understand thye managing of your emotions and needs are all that you can handle. LET GO OF THE OUGHTS AND SHOULDS!
     
  2. Plan ahead/shop early: Difficulty concentrating and remembering is common when grieving. Make lists and prioritize everything. Using lists helps (small, simiple,) helps you obtain small goals and sense of accomplishment when you check items off. Shopping can be extremely upsetting so instead of going to the mall shop online or give gift cards. Take a friend may help cope with the stress of shopping
     
  3. Create a support system: Talk and surround yourself with people who will not judge, or question your sadness or need to talk about your loved one. Support groups are great to help one cope with getting through difficult times
  4. Family times: Sit down with your family and discuss what you want to do for the holiday season. Set limits for yourself and realize it may be difficult.
     
  5. Old vs. New traditions: You may decide celebrating may be too difficult and choose to start new traditions this year.
     
  6. Express your feelings: Let others know when you are having difficulty coping. Give yourself permission to cry if you want to cry. Speak up and let those around you know what you need (privacy, help with children, help with decorating or need to talk).
     
  7. Talk about your loved one! Bring up your loved ones name if you want to talk about him. Most people believe if do will make you sad. Have family and friends tell their favorite memory of your loved one.

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