By Jennifer Moreno
A time for hot cocoa by the fire, sips of egg nog, and family. It is a festive time of togetherness that a lot of us look forward to throughout the year. The Holidays may not always feel so carefree when you are remembering a loved one who has passed on. Whether they passed on in the midst of Holiday festivities or during any other time during the year, it is normal to remember and grieve your loved one. Especially during this season, when new memories are being made and there seems to be a void without your loved one nearby.
What do you do when those around you are giving gifts in the holiday spirit? How do you put on that brave face when inside you are trying to keep it all together? Sure, the laughter of the holidays is there. I’m sure you feel the lightheartedness in the air. But remember, grief is really the price of love, of having loved fully, and at a time of celebration it is okay to reminisce about your loved one.
Here are some strategies for self-care and connection when grieving during the holiday season.
Giving goes without saying this time of year, but I encourage you to take it up a notch and give to yourself. If you need a little time, take it. If you want to give yourself the gift of a spa date or a cup of hot tea, do it. In the therapy world, we focus heavily on self-care, even as clinicians. Give the gift of self-care to yourself, because if you are on empty you will have nothing to give to others. Think of it like filling up your gas tank.
However you see fit, remember their laughter and love. Whether it be looking through family photos or going to their favorite restaurant or show, do it. It will help you to remember the good times and all the affections that your loved one gave.
Invite someone over.
Crowds are everywhere this time of year. You my have plans for a full house or are going to someone else’s full house, but make sure you spend quality time with close friends and/or your family. Togetherness is important.
Yes, this can include self talk. It’s okay to tell yourself, “Hey, I’m missing my loved one but I can get through this. They would want me to!”
Visit your loved ones.
This is along the same lines as inviting someone over. The point is to not be alone. Some alone time is okay; we all heal in different ways but be mindful to get the connections and affection that you need.
Yes, I said it, eat well. A balanced meal does wonders for the body and mind as does getting enough sleep. Try not to over indulge, but it is the holidays and comfort from a slice of pumpkin pie can be just what’s needed to connect to memories and nostalgia of past times together, while adjusting to the new reality.
Most importantly, live your life. With self-care and reaching out and connection to others, you can get through this.