Question: The holidays are coming, and I've been feeling more worried about how I'll get through them this year. I have a family to care for, and I want the holidays to be wonderful for them, but most days it's tough for me to get out of bed and get going for the day, let alone organize the major social events.
Answer: The holidays are a traditional time of joy and laughter, glitter and sparkle and gift-giving. But for people who are grieving the holidays can seem almost inappropriate, if not outright painful.
The holidays seem made to remind us of what we have lost. For example, catalogs for December shopping show up in June or July 4th signals the start of family reunions and picnics. The holidays are a time of remembering past celebrations, and often of opportunities to cut free from everyday stress.
But for people who are grieving the holidays may be a time of mixed emotions, often feelings of being overwhelmed with too many demands and the sadness of love lost come full force during this period.
With that said we at Oak Tree Bereavement Center ask that you think about how to take care of yourself during this vulnerable time. Here are some helpful suggestions:
Appreciate Grief Work as
it's not simply time that will help you to adjust to the death of your loved one. The work of grieving requires that you deal with all the feelings that the loss creates in you. That is, as much as grief work requires physical energy it also demands psychic energy which can leave you feeling pretty pooped-out for any of those social evens of the holiday season.
Allow Yourself to Let Some Things Slide
If you really want to do all the cooking and the dessert making make a deal with yourself that you'll let other things go perhaps until a month later. If you want to make that pie, then forget about the dusting, if you want to decorate the way you usually do, ask others to help you out. You can make any exchange or "deal" you want but do keep in mind you can't do it all right now.
Limits, Limits, Limits
Tell your friends and remind your family (and have your family remind each other) and yourself that you are grieving. Continue to remind yourself and others by saying you will not be doing it "the same way" this year. That you'll be taking a grief break which entails no over-shopping,
over-doing, over-eating, over- cooking, and over-drinking. Better yet, put it on a sticky note and paste it to your bathroom mirror and your refrigerator to remind yourself and family members.
Do You Want to Do This or Should You Do This?
Your self-talk is important during this season. Stay away from the "Should"s. Keep in mind there are too many reminders around you that say "You should" so try to keep yourself from saying the same.
it's a Body and Mind Thing
Try to balance your lifestyle with self-care. It's difficult enough during the holidays to get enough rest and exercise and the overindulging is really a problem.
This is the time to get out there and exercise. Exercise is well-known to be an antidote for sadness so try to get a walk into your day each day. If you can't do it daily that's fine but keep it in mind for a simple way to slow down and breathe deeper. Any sort of mind relaxation techniques you can recall this is a good time to throw them into the mix. They are an antidote to stress. Don't know any? Learn some as a gift to yourself.
You'll have much more control over stress and sadness if you incorporate these simple skills.