We’ve all been there. We’ve felt obligated to put on a happy face for a variety of reasons. Maybe we would rather not answer questions. Or maybe we don’t want to ruin the good time for those around us. Whether death, divorce, or family conflict, dealing with loss in the midst of holiday cheer can be painful for many. While friends, family, and coworkers are celebrating, they are silently grieving. It can become almost unbearable and can lead those who are suffering to isolate themselves and avoid celebrations. If this is you, keep reading for ways to make the pain a little more bearable.
1. Help others who are hurting. It may sound old-fashioned or redundant, but volunteering to help the homeless or needy or even donating items to a local toy distribution program can help to get your mind off your grief. Rest homes are also happy to have visitors.
2. Don’t feel obligated. Self-care is just as important through the holidays, so set aside the people-pleasing tendencies and think about yourself. It’s also important, however, to avoid isolating yourself for long periods. This can lead to depression, especially if winter skies already give you the blues.
3. Change up traditions. Sometimes the same family routines cause more pain. Request that the family change the location of celebratory dinners or even add something to honor the loss of the friend or relative. Reflect upon the good memories and avoid those friends or family who continue to rehash painful memories or constantly ask questions.
4. Acknowledge your grief. Dealing with loss is important for moving forward. Yes, we all deal with grief differently, but we all deal with it. Covering it up and pretending to be cheerful helps noone. Those around you can sense that you’re distant. If you’re comfortable doing so, share with them that you’re struggling. Give them the knowledge they need to be more mindful. It’s okay to ask others to be considerate.
5. Seek therapy during the holiday season. Therapy doesn’t have to be long-term. If you decide you have more to work on then, by all means, continue it. But, it’s fine to seek some extra support through a particularly rough time. It can be a great opportunity to learn some coping skills to help guide you through future struggles with loss.
If you happen to be someone on the other side of this, please be mindful and take some time out of the holiday rush to check on those who may be struggling. If a friend or family member isn’t comfortable attending a crowded dinner while dealing with loss, offer a more intimate outing for coffee or lunch and a lended ear. And maybe a hug….with their permission of course.