The holiday season is upon us and with it may come feelings of sadness and grief when managing the loss of a loved one, even more so if this is the first holiday without them. Waves of grief may reemerge as memories of previous holidays surface. The first holiday season of my mother’s death was quite difficult – it felt as though I was living in a black and white world while everyone else was living in full color.
These are normal, yet painful reactions during the grief process. Grief has a powerful way of inserting its presence into our lives and requires our attention. It is particularly challenging when past memories are unpleasant, mixed or the loss is unresolved. We can also grieve for the loss of a relationship, a job or home. We can experience loss in many, many ways. It’s stressful and challenging to feel sad and upset when it seems the rest of the world is happy. It’s important to reach out to your support network and if the pain is too intense, contact a professional counselor for personalized assistance.
You are not alone in your grieving – some find participating in bereavement support groups helpful. Whatever path you choose – be mindful to pick and choose how and where you direct your energy. My sister’s and I decided to create a new ritual to honor my mother, and each December we gather together to make an Italian cookie that she made for decades; this tradition is a significant part of our holiday memories with her. This year marks our 25th year of doing this and we have passed this tradition on to the younger generations to ensure it continues to be part of our family history.
Eight Tips for Maintaining Balance While Grieving a Loss During the Holidays:
- Maintain your usual schedule to be sure to get adequate rest. The usual stress of the holiday season is intensified when grieving, particularly when experiencing the first holiday without the loved one or the loss is recent.
- Rely on your support system and reach out to family and friends for much-needed support. Give yourself permission to limit your participation in social situations and rituals this year. Mindfully create a holiday routine that works for your well-being.
- Acknowledge that your grief may feel stronger as you recall memories of past holidays with your loved ones. Honor yourself and take extra care.
- Change your holiday rituals this year. If you usually host Christmas Eve dinner, consider skipping it and have a Christmas morning brunch instead. Any small change in the routine will help make the empty chair at the table less obvious.
- Consider creating a new tradition that simultaneously honors the lost loved one and helps you to move forward.
- Take time to pause, to reflect and to breathe. Waves of emotions are common when grieving and taking deep breaths can help the emotional overwhelm recede.
- Take time to move your body either through exercise or yoga – both will help release the physical signs of grief.
- Essential oils can be a significant support as well. Breathe, a doTERRA proprietary essential oil blend is very helpful in helping grief to flow, lavender is very calming and soothing and peppermint essential oil can uplift one’s mood.
– Deb Scully