So often during this time of year, everyone wants us to smile, and while we may smile, attend office parties, host our own Friendsgiving and post-Instagram worthy photos, it doesn’t change that on the inside we want to scream and just lay in the bed and cry.
It’s been eleven years since I experienced my first true loss that has affected my mood during the holidays. Since then I’ve lost three family members to cancer, my grandmother and two friends to suicide (one just a few months ago).
You’ll have people who call or text, wanting you to hang out, and while you may go, you know you just don’t want to be there.
Most of us have become pros at “faking the funk” as my mom would say. We are so good at hiding our pain that people don’t believe we are going through anything. Whether they believe it or not, it’s not for you to worry about.
Grace is a must
During this time one of the best things you can do is give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. This isn’t the time of year where you should have to hide your emotions to satiate anyone else’s feelings. If you are sad or mourning, please know and understand that it is natural.
Try not to fall prey to the belief that you have to feel a certain way or do certain things in order to make the holiday “normal.” Meaning, if you feel sad, please allow the tears to come. If you are angry and you need to vent, allow yourself to safely do so as well.
Even in a family, it’s important to remember that we all grieve differently and that in itself can create strain and confusion between family members and friends.
The same way no one should make you feel bad or guilty for your grief; if you want to be cheerful and celebrate the holidays in all of its glory do so. No one should make you feel bad about that either.
Reach out for support
It’s completely natural to want to back away from everyone and everything. If you are experiencing tough emotions and need someone to talk to, seek out family and friends to help you through it. However, be mindful that they might be coping with their own feelings or immersed in the holidays that they cannot offer the support you need.
If this is the case, grief support groups are a great way to make sure that your feelings are being heard and your emotional needs are being met. If you need help finding one in your area, Grief Share is a great site to see if there are services available near you. Local churches, community centers, funeral homes, or a hospice are also places where you can go to find a group that suits you.
64 ways to cope with grief
There was a great list I found on ways to cope with grief during the holidays, you can read the full post here. I wanted to pull out a few of my favorite activities to help deal with grief during the holidays that I have found to be helpful for my own situation.
- Acknowledge that the holidays will be different and they will be tough.
- Decide which traditions you want to keep.
- Decide which traditions you want to change.
- Create a new tradition in memory of your loved one.
- Decide where you want to spend the holidays – you may want to switch up the location, or it may be of comfort to keep it the same. Either way, make a conscious decision about location.
- Plan ahead and communicate with the people you will spend the holiday with in advance, to make sure everyone is in agreement about traditions and plans.
- Remember that not everyone will be grieving the same way you are grieving.
- Remember that the way others will want to spend the holiday may not match how you want to spend the holiday.
- Visit your loved one’s gravesite and leave a grave blanket, wreath, poinsettia, or another meaningful holiday item.
- Skip holiday events if you are in holiday overload.
This can be a difficult time of year. We cant’ always expect everyone around us to understand why it’s so hard. If they aren’t understanding, keep your cool and establish a boundary around yourself to protect your emotions during this tough time. Remember to place your emotional needs first.
If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 to speak with a professional counselor
Love of impromptu dance parties, 80’s cartoons, and horizontal life pauses (aka naps); Natasha Brown is a stay at home mom of 4 kids, and wife to one lucky guy! In her spare time, she is co-editor of Grits & Grace, as well as editor for The Mother Hustler Blog and Creative Director for the Mother Hustler podcast.