The holidays might be an especially challenging time of year for those of us who are grieving a complex loss.
We may not feel like celebrating. The holidays might bring up many memories of our lost loved one, and facing the festivities and traditions without them can be very painful.
Planning ahead might be a good idea.
First of all, you might want to think about self care. What might be soothing or enjoyable for you? Distractions are sometimes a relief. Allow yourself to go a good movie to immerse yourself in another story for a while, or get together with a dear friend. Engage in other self care activities which you are drawn to, such as soaking in a hot bath, reading, or meditating. Perhaps some of your closest friends and family members can help to take care of you. Don’t be afraid to ask. Maybe they can help with meals, or take over the planning and hosting of holiday events.
Give yourself an out. Follow your feelings. If you need to leave a party early to have some quiet time that is OK. Allow yourself to change plans if you need to, and try to surround yourself with people who are understanding and empathetic. Limit your interactions with family members or friends which feel taxing or toxic.
Set aside some time, if you wish, to honor the relationship with your lost loved one and to have space for your feelings. Is there a holiday tradition which would bring you comfort and a sense of connection with them, such as cooking their favorite dish? Would you like to place flowers on their grave, or have a special toast in their memory?
If you can, try to find moments of enjoyment with those around around you. Perhaps there is a new holiday tradition which you can begin, such as volunteering with friends to provide a meal for those in need, art making, a festive brunch, or snowshoeing. Connect with those who are around you.
Please feel free to post here about your holiday experiences.