Grief. It’s a small word with a big effect. At worst it is crippling. At best it is nagging. And holidays seem to magnify the heartache that follows grief, regardless of when the loss took place. For some, pushing through the holidays and honoring time old traditions can be the perfect way to memorialize a loved one. But for others, creating and celebrating new traditions or skipping the holiday festivities altogether might be easier to bare. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve during the holidays. Even two people who experienced the same loss will grieve differently. Many factors, such as the relationship to the deceased; the surviving individual’s belief and spirituality; past experiences with loss; and the survivor’s willingness and ability to express their grief can impact each survivor differently. Regardless of how you choose to celebrate or not celebrate the holidays, the following steps can help you feel more prepared to handle your grief:
- Acknowledge that the holidays will be different.
- Acknowledge that the holidays will be tough.
- Communicate your holiday plans with family and friends so that they will know what to expect.
- Recognize that even family and friends within your own grief circle may have different plans for how they wish to spend the holidays. Seek to find common ground, establish your plan should the holidays become too much for either party, or choose to celebrate separately if their plans conflict with your level of comfort.
- Seek help from a friend that you trust who can be there for you without offering advice or trying to “fix” your grief.
- Say “yes” to help if you need the support.