Managing Grief & Loss at the Holiday Season
At the holiday season, many people are happy to be spending time with loved ones, enjoying their favorite traditions, and eating all those sweet treats we look forward to year round. For others, the holiday season are a reminder of those loved ones who aren’t there to celebrate. During the pandemic, many of us have lost loved ones, and others are still separated from those they love. It’s no surprise that, this year, many people are struggling with a sense of grief and loss as the holidays approach. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some tips for how to manage feelings of grief while still finding time to embrace the joy of the holiday season. Don’t forget that, if you need a little extra support this time of the year, therapy is also a great option.
It’s Okay to Go – It’s Okay to Leave
First and foremost, however you’re feeling at the holiday season, it’s okay to go to any holiday events or gatherings where you feel comfortable. It’s also okay to leave if you need to. Respect how you feel. Be generous with yourself. Your loved ones will understand.
Embrace Your Greif
When feelings of grief do arise, don’t suppress or ignore them. Instead, let yourself feel the grief. Studies show that it takes 90 seconds for the brain and body to naturally process emotions. When you begin to feel grief rising up, set a timer for 90 seconds, and let yourself concentrate on how grieving feels. What thoughts are coming up? Where do you feel the grief in your body? What specific emotions (anger, fear, sadness) are coming up related to your grieving process?
After the 90 seconds are up, take a few deep breaths and do something else. Give yourself permission to move on with your day, but if you experience additional feelings of grief, take another 90 seconds to process. At first, you may find yourself stopping numerous times, but in most cases, recognizing and embracing your feelings of grief as they arise will lead to fewer recurrences of these emotions over time.
Keep Your Traditions & Make New Ones
It can be painful to take part in holiday traditions you once engaged in with a lost loved one, but it can also be healing to continue these traditions in their honor. If you’re not ready to keep up the old traditions, that’s okay. Consider making some new traditions. Not to replace the old ones, but to hold space for them until you’re ready to bring them back.
If you’re having a difficult time being around your loved ones as you manage grief, consider volunteering. By working with those in need, you’ll release some much needed serotonin (the brain’s feel good hormone). Volunteer work can also help you feel a sense of purpose and place within the world.
The Role of Therapy in the Grieving Process
Some people are able to hold space for their feelings of grief while going on with their day to day lives. Others can benefit from partnering with a therapist to learn and practice techniques for managing emotions, work through overpowering feelings of grief, and begin to make space in their lives to experience a wider range of emotions outside of feelings of grief and loss. If you think therapy may be an important resource for you during a time of grief, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Lotus Psychology Group.