The holiday season can be stressful no matter what is happening in your life, but for those grieving the loss of a loved one or a pet that pressure can feel crushing. In a time when you’re expected to be merry and bright, trying to find that holiday spirit while grieving can seem impossible. There are ways to be merry and bright even if you are healing a broken heart.
First, be realistic about the holidays and yourself. Don’t expect everything to be exactly the same as it has been in the past. If grieving has you feeling overwhelmed, ask others to help with tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping. If you used to serve a seven course meal and it seems that you just can’t do it this year, then order in a catered meal or ask guests to bring a dish or two. The expectation that everything has to be perfect can actually cause more anxiety and pressure than is necessary. Allowing yourself to delegate, downsize, or to simplify the expectations can relieve a lot of pressure and allow you the healing time that you need.
If this past year you had to say goodbye to a family member or a friend, grief experts say honoring that person during the holiday season can bring a sense of them still being here. An example of this is purchasing a special ornament or plaque in their honor. Putting up decorations that belonged to your loved one or even lighting a candle in their honor can go a long way in easing the pain.
Take care of yourself. Doing what makes you feel comfortable is essential during this time. Try not to succumb to the pressures of society to attend every party, wrap every gift like, Martha Stewart, or cook like Bobbie Flay. If doing all those things is what makes you happy then go for it, but don’t feel obligated because it is what you think you are supposed to do. Taking care of yourself and making yourself happier will allow for many other happy holidays.
Surround yourself with people you love and people who love you. Keep the people around you informed about how you are feeling so they can understand and support you. While the saying misery loves company seems bitter and trite, the fact remains that grief is made easier when you are not alone. Share your memories by telling stories and looking through photos. Happy memories are a great source of comfort while you are grieving.
Look for the true meaning of the holidays. Making your holiday season merry and bright can be as easy as helping others. You can adopt a needy family, participate in charitable work, or just be there for someone else who may be struggling with the holidays. Helping others fills the heart with joy, making way for it to heal.
Just remember that the holidays just like any other time of the year is what we make of it. Keeping the expectations fair and taking care of yourself, surrounded by the people who love you and who you love will go a long way in making this holiday season merry and bright.