Grieving and the holidays.

A lot of my clients at both jobs are having a difficult time with grieving this holiday season.  I did some searching and found a few tips that might be helpful for you this season if you are going through the same thing.

  • Don’t pretend that nothing has changed – it would be false to pretend that there isn’t a gap in your family. Even children want the loss to be recognised.
  • Consider abandoning the traditional celebrations. If you have lost someone dear to you this year, you don’t owe it to anyone to fake cheerfulness if you’re not ready for it. You may get invitations from well-meaning people to spend time with them because they hate the idea of you being alone. Only accept if it’s what you want.  And if you don’t want the traditional holidays, there’s always the Solstice, Kwanzaa, or the Orthodox Christian calendar to follow.
  • Express how you feel. You may be terrified of opening up your heart because of your grief. But expressing that grief to someone else, or in writing, is the best way to heal it.
  • Make a special memory of your loved one. This could be something you create yourself, such as writing a poem. It could simply be drinking a toast in their memory. Or you could light a candle each day for a few minutes of recognition and remembrance.
  • Appreciate what you do still have. However much you miss this person, there are others who are still here. Write a list of everybody you appreciate having in your life. Taking the time to count your blessings is a step towards the future.
  • Remember that the only rule in grieving is that there are no rules. You can make up your own rules, and the important thing is that they must work for you and nobody else.
  • Make a couple of social appearances during the holidays. Don’t isolate.  I repeat, don’t isolate.

There is no rule which says you have to behave in a certain way at this time of year in order to make others more comfortable. However, if you can let the holiday spirit in just a little, perhaps that will also help you move forward into the year ahead.

About Nate Prentice, MSW, LCSW, CAS-PC

Nate Prentice, MSW, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Pastoral Counselor who maintains a private psychotherapy practice in Drexel Hill, PA.
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