The holiday season can be the hardest time of the year to grieve. Traditions, memories, stress and the deep feeling of loss can be an extremely painful combination. There are some steps that can be taken to help through this difficult time of the year.
It can help to recognize that it is indeed a challenging time of year to grieve. It can also be helpful to accept that while things are going to change, in time, joy will return to the season. How do you get there?
Take the Holidays Off
If you don’t feel you have the strength, energy or emotional capacity to get through all of the traditional parties, dinners, and gift exchanges, give yourself permission to take the holidays off. If that is too dramatic, pick and choose more carefully the events you feel up to participating in. While you don’t want to isolate yourself completely, there’s nothing wrong with downsizing the holidays, especially during this first year.
Don’t feel that you should be forced to maintain every tradition in honor of a loved one. In fact, this can be an opportunity to start some new ones. Schedule dinner at a different location or make arrangements to go out to eat. Recognize a loved one with a prayer, poem or by sharing a pre-dinner memory. Perhaps light a candle on the table in recognition of the loved one or hang a meaningful ornament on the tree.
Many charitable and non-profit organization are extremely busy during the holidays. There may be soup kitchens, food banks or toy drives you can get involved with. You could make a cash donation in the person’s honor or get involved with a fundraiser. Giving time and money to those less fortunate often reminds us of what we have to be grateful for.
It can be helpful to know that children grieve differently than adults, and even children of differing age groups react differently. HelloGrief.org is an excellent resource for a better understanding on how different ages grieve following a death.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with grief during the holidays there are local and national resources to help. The Compassionate Friends, Cincinnati Chapter is one such organization. They offer friendship and self-help and understanding to bereaved parents, grandparents and adult siblings. The group meets on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm at St. Timothy Episcopal Church, 8101 Beechmont Avenue in Cincinnati. For more information contact Carol Terbrueggen at (513) 271-6809.
The Cremation Society of Greater Cincinnati also can make available Gus the Grief Therapy Dog. Gus is available to meet with families and attend funeral services at your request.
If you experience a death in the family throughout the holidays, we would be honored to assist you. We encourage you to contact us for more information.