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Navigating Grief During the Holiday Season

Women looking at Christmas decorations

Ahhh here we are, at that time of year again. The chill in the air and the re-introduction of pumpkin spice lattes, muffins, cupcakes, etc tells us that its fall and year end holidays are upon us. Which also means family gatherings. For some, this is a very joyous time that allows for reconnecting and rekindling. For others, it’s bittersweet as the sting of loss, echoes all around. This can be any loss: the death of someone you love, the ending of a close relationship, the change of a move that was difficult. If you fall in the category of the latter, keep reading to gain a bit of insight into how you can bear through this season with your sanity and hope intact as you learn how to navigate grief during the holiday season.

Allow Yourself to Just Be

Sometimes after a major life event like a loss, we can feel pressure to keep moving, keep going and try to live as if nothing happened. But something did happen and you’ve changed. That’s ok! Allow yourself the grace to just be where you are at this current moment in your loss and grieving process. That could look like taking rest when it's needed even if it's time off from work and even spending more or less time with friends/family.

There is No Right or Wrong Way to Celebrate the Holiday Season

Your yearly traditions may look very different this year. You could be adjusting to being in a new city or neighborhood and you don’t know anyone just yet. That’s ok! One option could be to venture out and find some holiday events taking place near you. Maybe you are dealing with the loss of a person or relationship that was close to you and you’re not sure how you will manage celebrating without them. That is a really hard shift and I hope you’re able to give yourself grace in the midst of it. In giving yourself that grace, maybe you have a smaller intimate gathering with some of your closest people or maybe don’t host your extended family and just have your immediate family over. However, you choose to celebrate, take the pressure off and know that there is no right or wrong way to do it. If anything, the priority is to get through this time of year the best you can.

Don’t Be Afraid to Grieve

When the holidays are here, we expect to feel happy and joyous all the time. The reality is that that probably isn’t going to happen. Your life has changed and you are still adjusting. Although time doesn’t stop for anyone, you can still pause and say “I’m not ok right now.” And you know what, that’s ok! Yes, I sound repetitive, but if there is anything I hope you glean from this blog, it’s that all of your emotional experience is A-ok. Change can be so hard and when you are dealing with loss of any kind, you will attempt to fill that void. I hope that you give yourself the freedom to feel your feelings.

Cultivate Joy

Happiness and joy can be found in the midst of grief, loss and transition. You can still allow yourself to grief what was and face what is. You can still laugh, you can still smile, and you can still live. It will not be easy. Guilt and reminders of the past will creep in. That’s ok! Welcome the difficult emotions, sit with it and then usher them out like a friend you like but don’t want around all the time. Then when it leaves, allow happiness and joy to come in, get comfortable and take up space as well. I’m not sure what cultivating joy will look like for you. It can be as simple as going to a light show, re-watching your favorite sitcom (for me, it’s always Living Single, hehe), doing something nice for someone who is also going through a hard time, or just sharing with others that you could use some company. It can even be a bit more lavish and include a trip with close loved ones. Whatever it is, allow yourself to experience joy this season friend. It may be difficult, but it is possible.

Wishing you the best on your healing journey,

Alexis M


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