Grief During Holidays
Self-Care | Grief During Holidays
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Vancouver Sun article: Strategies help cope with grief during the holidays - written by Lynette Pollard-Elgert and Susan Moore
The pain we experience when we lose someone we love is more intense during special days. The expectation of relaxation, happiness, and celebration makes a sharp contrast to the pain of loss. Nothing can change our reality but there are some things to do to manage grief and help ourselves to cope.
Decide in advance how the special day or days will be spent. However, be flexible if you find things aren't working out as expected. The plan was made to help, not to cause more distress. So be realistic.
Talk About Your Grief
Friends and family do not always understand that your loved one is never out of your mind. Try to give your sorrow words, or write them in a journal. It is healthy to share your memories both happy and sad with people who care.
We Have Tears For A Purpose
Scientists speculate that tears contain a component that has the effect of improving our emotional state. However it works, experience tells us that crying is healing. If you don't feel comfortable crying in the presence of others, allow time to cry alone. It will relieve the pressure and help you to control your grief in social settings. Holidays are arbitrary but your grief has a life of its own and won't always allow you to put it on hold.
Re-evaluate Famiy Traditions
This may help to blunt the sharp sad memories of how things used to be. Consider altering the way things have always been done. Design new rituals and traditions, or do something symbolic to memorialize your loved one.
You Are The Best Authority On Your Grief
During the holidays well meaning friends may try to help by keeping you busy or making sure you are never alone. It is important for you to determine for yourself what is best. Discuss your wishes with someone you trust. It will help clarify your needs and make it easier to explain what your limits are.
Spend Time With People You Trust
Try not to isolate yourself with your feelings. Friends who do not judge your behaviour, who allow you to talk about your grief and accept your feelings are invaluable. Ask them to help you guard against wearing them out! You will need to save their valuable help for the days ahead.
Recognize Your Physical and Psychological Limitations
Most people experience fatigue during grief. Don't hesitate to excuse yourself from commitments you feel too tired or sad to attend. Keeping busy has its uses but also risks delaying or avoiding sadness that must be experienced to heal. Avoid places, situations and people you believe may cause you stress or anxiety. Instead allow time for simple activities that sooth and relax and provide creative outlets of your own choosing. Allow yourself to just 'be'.
Use All Resources That Are Available To You
If you have a faith or religion that gives you comfort, this is a time to depend on it. A vacation in a new environment is not necessarily avoidance of a loss, it can help you feel alive again and somewhat involved with life. Sharing feelings with others, even strangers, who have had similar experience can give perspective and assure you that you will survive. Grief counselling in groups or individually can assist you in understanding your grief, and help you to cope with its manifestations. Above all, be kind to yourself and know that your pain is entirely appropriate, considering your loss. Grief comes as a result of love and is a tribute to your relationship.