Holiday decorations are up! This may have you wondering what to do when the holiday cheer displayed in stores doesn’t match what you are feeling on the inside.

The reality is that the Holidays can be difficult for many of us, especially when we have experienced a death and are grieving for our loved one. Putting on a mask and pretending to be happy is just too much to bear. The Grief Counselors at Unity want you to know you have other options when maneuvering your way through the holidays.

Handling the Holidays

Holidays are often difficult for people who have experienced the death of a loved one. The sounds, sights and smells of the holiday season may trigger feelings of sadness, loss, emptiness and anxiety. Traditionally being a time of family togetherness, sharing and thanksgiving, this season may heighten your feelings of loss. This is a common part of grieving during the holidays. We hope this newsletter provides guidance and support so you can find peace throughout the holiday season.

Be Gentle With Yourself

The combination of a holiday and a loss naturally results in looking inward and thinking about where you have been and where you are. Be gentle with yourself as you think about the true meaning of the holidays. Find things around you that you are thankful for, even if they are small things. Accept the ups and downs you may experience. If you feel sadness, feel sadness. If you feel joy, feel joy. Keep taking deep breaths and take each moment as it comes.

Plan Ahead

The season is often filled with traditions and gatherings of friends and family. This year there may also be a change in expectations and hopes for the season as we continue to be impacted by Covid-19. Take some time to consider what you want to do while also considering what feels right and safe for you, your family and friends. Remember, what you do this year does not define future options and possibilities.

Inform Others of Your Needs

As you grieve during the holidays, well-meaning friends and family may try to tell you what they feel is in your best interest. It is important to focus on what you need. Find a moment to ask yourself what you believe is best for you. As you become aware of your needs, share them with friends and family. Be specific with them about your preferences and desires and let them know if those needs change.

Be Aware of Limitations

Grief can consume most of your available physical and emotional energy no matter what the season. The holidays place additional demands on your time and emotions. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Be realistic in the expectations you hold for yourself.

Reduce Unnecessary Stress

During a year that has already been stressful and filled with so many unknowns, the holiday season can bring additional stress. Consider doing things on a smaller scale or make a change to your surroundings, rituals and/or traditions. This might include limiting commitments and re-evaluating priorities while letting go of unnecessary activities or obligations. Keeping busy can distract you from your grief, but it may increase stress.

Talk About Your Grief

It is important to identify others who encourage you to be yourself and accept your feelings, both happy and sad, without judgement. Be open to expressing your feelings of grief related to all losses this year as sharing your feelings may help lessen the pain.

Ask For and Accept Help

Oftentimes, loved ones are looking for ways to provide their support. Allowing those who care about you to assist with holiday shopping, decorating, cleaning, cooking, etc. may lessen your feelings of loneliness and may even be enjoyable.

Healing Rituals

Memories were made in love, and memories are what keep you connected to your loved one during the holiday season. As you share memories, keep in mind that memories can bring feelings of both happiness and sadness. Allow yourself to experience your feelings. The following are ideas that may bring you comfort as you remember your loved one:

  • Decorate the tree with family or friends
  • Place a wreath at your loved one’s gravesite
  • Choose a candle or flower to be placed at the table as a remembrance
  • Make a loved one’s favorite meal
  • Place written memories in a box to be shared when family is together

Each person grieves in their own way; therefore, Unity offers services designed to meet your unique needs. View our full list of Grief Support Groups. Please remember that Unity Grief Counselors are available to talk. 920-338-1111

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