As the weather in Ohio turns cold and holiday planning progresses, many will approach the season with eager excitement. Unfortunately, many others will tread forward with sadness.
Most would agree that spending time with family and friends is an important aspect of the holiday season. However, for those coping with grief after the loss of a loved one, this time of year can be a difficult reminder of those who are not there.
Although most of us experience some sort of grief in life, the grieving process is different for everyone. Some may feel an insurmountable wave of emotions, and others may feel numb to their surroundings. In any case, the feeling of sorrow in a joyous environment can be a major challenge for those grieving the loss of a loved one.
Below we provide three tips to help you or someone you know cope with grief during the holidays.
1. Find Support in Family and Other Loved Ones
The holiday season is for spending time with loved ones. If you have the opportunity for extra time with family and loved ones, don’t hesitate to share how you’re feeling—most will be happy to help. Friends and relatives are a great support system during times of grief.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), denying loss is an easy way to isolate yourself and frustrate your support system in the process. When you talk about the passing of a loved one, it helps you remember the memory of the loved one you lost.
Though not at all required, one way to actively seek the loving support of family and friends is to hold a remembrance event. A remembrance event is like a memorial service in honor of a loved one that helps others celebrate his or her memory. These events are common around the holidays, making it easy for you to attend one. Check out this resource for 10 holiday activities that can help with your grief.
2. Continue Shared Traditions
You likely have joyful memories of holiday traditions shared with your loved one. While it may seem painful to even think about continuing these traditions without your loved one, it can help you relive joyous memories shared with you and your family.
For example, we heard the story of one man, Richard Beebe, who always had a love of Christmas growing up. However, after losing both his wife and daughter, he spent years grieving. While the grieving continues, he now celebrates and honors the same traditions he once enjoyed with them to help press on and continue to heal—singing Christmas carols and spending the holiday with his wife’s family.
You can introduce new friends and family to your traditions, or continue them alone. Whichever you decide, remembering the traditions and cheerful times you spent together can help you through your grieving process.
3. Make a Difference
The holiday season is all about giving. Whether it’s donating to a charity or giving spare change, donating helps us give back to those in need, especially during the holiday season.
Similarly, working to improve the lives of others helps take the focus away from our own grief. In a study by the UnitedHealth Group, the majority of survey participants said they felt mentally and physically healthier after volunteering. Moreover, many of the participants cited mood improvement, lower stress levels and an enriched sense of purpose.
Consider volunteering at a food bank, homeless shelter or soup kitchen. You can also use this resource to search for a volunteering opportunity near your community.
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