It’s okay not to be okay.
It is natural for the holidays to bring up memories of loved ones lost as it is a time focused on togetherness. The absence of what is lost can often feel all-consuming. Whether your grief is new or not, the high expectations from society (and sometimes from ourselves) for elevated joy can be overwhelming.
The first and perhaps the largest step in grieving during the holiday season hinges heavily on the acknowledgment that holiday celebrations will not be the same. I mean, without your loved one how could they be?
The pain of separation is permanent and there is no need to minimize it. No matter what anyone says, it sucks, and there is no timeline for grieving. There is an old saying that grief cannot be fixed, it can only be carried.
My hope is that the following will make it less difficult to carry.
Suggestions for the upcoming holiday season:
- Spend time each day doing things that help you to recharge. For some people that is a favorite cup of coffee in the morning, journaling, playing with animals, or spending time with loved ones. Do whatever works best for you.
- You’re Allowed to Change Your Mind
Yes, even if you said yes to that thing but now you are absolutely dreading it. Know that you are allowed to change your mind! If you over-committed yourself, be honest. It is also ok to leave early. You may be excited for a social gathering but get there and realize “I do not want to be here”. That is OK, give yourself permission to listen to your needs. Your friends will understand. Always remember that taking care of your mental health and well-being is incredibly important. You deserve to prioritize yourself and your needs above everything else.
- Do things that bring you joy and get rid of the things that don’t.
- Truly, the holidays do not have any set way to celebrate. In fact – you don’t have to celebrate at all if you don’t want to.
- Find a way to honor your loved one. This can look like starting a new tradition that honors their memory. Some examples could be cooking, baking, or making a donation in their name or memory.
- Feel your feelings. There is no right or wrong way for you to be feeling at this time, so however that looks for you, embrace it.
- Most of all, know that it is OK to be happy and sad too. It doesn’t mean that you miss your loved one any less or make the loss less significant. Chances are, your loved one would want nothing more than for you to feel at peace and experience joy.
You deserve that.
Last, know that you and your family have resources if you need someone to talk with. Hospice Care of the Lowcountry’s bereavement team is here and ready. Give us a call 843-706-2296.