Do’s and Don’ts for dealing with holiday stress
Don’t push difficult feelings away all the time. They honor our whole lives.
Do realize that holidays can bring sadness and losses to mind. Share your longings for past times or people with people who love you now. Even the “wheel of life” moments can bring tears.
When the Holidays Bring up Sadness or Losses
Unfortunately, not all holiday memories are happy.
We may miss loved ones no longer with us. When life dashes our dreams of something better, we may feel crushed. We may simply miss the way things used to be. Even the “wheel of life” moments can bring tears. Life may be progressing naturally and well. Still, we may grieve normal, unavoidable losses. Our losses may cause bittersweet feelings.
Accepting What You Feel
Know that your grief or sadness is not of itself “wrong” or “unacceptable.”
Sometimes the loss of a marriage, a spouse, or a loved one can feel very heavy indeed.
You may be in a place where you’re wondering how you’ll make it through the holidays this year.
Here are some tips (inspired by some supportive ideas on Grief.com):
- You will come through okay. Yes, these are going to be very emotionally difficult days. And yes, you will make it through.
- Let yourself grieve. Avoiding our deep grief causes it’s own suffering It hurts so much to think of having to bury this sense of loss, hide it, or pretend it isn’t there. Let yourself honor your loved one and your loss. Grief will intermingle with love, when you let all the feelings flow. It won’t swamp you.
- Give your loss an external time and place. Light a candle, display flowers, or recall the name of your loved one during a family moment of prayer or reflection.
- When you feel deep sadness welling up, let it come. Breathe into the swell of emotion and let it rise. Cry if you want to.
- Share your longings for past times or people with people who love you now. Retell a happy memory, or have others recall their stories of times they remember with your loved one.
- Be gentle with yourself. You may want family and loved ones near, even though you don’t feel the holiday spirit. It’s okay to simply be present. You may not feel able to take part in all that’s going on. It’s okay to do only what you feel up to doing.
How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving
If someone you know is going through a time of grief and loss:
- Don’t ask if you can help. Simply give help. Prepare a meal. Run errands or provide pet care. Take a mourning friend out for coffee or a change of scene.
- Smile at your grieving loved one. Give a hug. Be willing to sit with them, and simply let them talk or cry if they need to. Be calm; be present. Simply listening from the heart can help share the burden of grief.
- Be gentle, let go of how things ‘should be.’ Don’t insist that your loved one take part in your holiday plan if it more than they want to do.
During the holidays, it is normal for our sense of loss to feel even sharper than it does other times of the year. You may find you have a greater need for support. There is no shame in saying you are feeling sadder than usual about all you have lost.
Connecting with the people who love you now is so very important. Gently think about how to turn toward a trusted loved one and share what is happening inside you.
Despite the hole you feel in your life, warm loving connections can still be part of your holiday experience too.
This is Tip #10,When the Holidays Bring up Sadness or Loss, From: 11 Holiday Stresses, and What to Do Instead.