For many people, the holidays are about spending time with loved ones. But for those who have suffered a recent loss, the holidays can be painful and isolating.
Here are some ways you can cope with the holidays after a loss:
1. Recognize You are Not Alone
It’s easy to feel as though you are the only one experiencing great pain during the holiday season. Everywhere you turn, people seem to be happy, putting up decorations, buying gifts and making holiday plans. It’s important to recognize the truth right now, and that is that you are not alone. There are people all over the world who have experienced loss, some perhaps very recently.
2. Honor Your Pain
No one expects you to feel joyful and in the holiday mood right now, so don’t feel as though you must pretend for others’ sake. It is very important that you honor whatever emotions you may be experiencing, whether it’s sadness, anger, regret or a combination.
3. Take Your Time
The holidays are usually a busy time for people. There is much to accomplish and many events to host and/or attend. You do not have to keep your normal schedule this year. You simply will not have the mental or emotional stamina for it. So take the time you need. If you don’t feel like attending many (or any) events this year, that is fine. People will understand.
4. Help Others in Need
One of the worst parts about losing a loved one is the feeling that we no longer have any control over our lives. Loss makes us feel helpless. One way to fight this feeling is to help others who are in need. As a bonus, connecting with others who are hurting can often be a salve on our hearts as well.
5. When Don’t These Guidelines Apply?
If you have children, it’s important to understand that they are looking to you right now to know what life will be like from now on. To a child, the loss of a parent or sibling can frighten them terribly. Though you may not at all feel like celebrating the holidays, doing so helps your child know that life does go on and that there is space in your life to feel joy along with sadness.