This past week, a widowed friend checked up on me to see how I was coping during the holidays. Thankfully, I was able to report that I am doing well. My friend’s question made me evaluate my feelings deeper. Part of that was looking at why I did so well. What I found was that this blog has played a large part in my feeling better.
If you have read any of my blog posts, you know I still think about Reggie a lot. The difference this blog made is that more and more my thoughts about him come from the perspective of what have I learned from this experience and how can I use that to help others. This change in perspective is a much happier experience for me than focusing on my loss and pain. That is what today’s blog post is about—coping, so you have a better holiday than you would otherwise.
Three Ways for Coping with Grief During the Holidays:
1. Be Gentle with Yourself
Most likely this holiday will be different than previous holidays, because you are different. So, don’t expect you or the holiday to be the same. Try to remember that different doesn’t have to mean ruined.
Also, take your time going through holiday rituals and traditions, like decorating. Holiday rituals and traditions, like decorating your home or tree, can stir up strong emotions. If possible, space things out over a few days. For instance, put up the tree one day and hang stockings another day. When strong feelings come, give yourself time to fully process them. If you have 200 tears, let all 200 tears flow. Resist the urge to bottle some up. Tears are cleansing. They clean our emotional wounds.
I haven’t decorated my home since Reggie passed. Instead, I helped decorate family member’s homes. This was a new experience since Reggie’s passing, so it was much easier for me to participate in. The ritual that was challenging for me was preparing for holiday parties. After Reggie came into my life, we attended these together. It also wasn’t the party. Once I was there, I enjoyed my friends. It was the preparing to go that hit me hard, especially the first year after he passed.
2. Have a Backup Plan
It is okay to have a Plan A and a Plan B, even a Plan C. Plan A can be to attend Christmas Dinner or New Year’s Brunch with family and friends. If that turns out to be too much, Plan B is a movie your loved one liked or a phone call/chat with a supportive friend. Plan C could be a Die Hard or Home Alone marathon. Often just having options is enough.
I always feel better once I am there.
For me, my Plan B was an abbreviated Plan A. I would go with the knowledge that I would leave early if my emotions became too much for me. That way, my family and friends wouldn’t worry about me. They would see I was okay, just understandably hurting. Also, it made me give the gatherings a chance. For me, the hardest part is going. I always feel better once I am there.
3. Take Advantage of Your Clean Slate
Embrace that the holiday will be different and take advantage of the opportunity to change it or something about it. What would you like to do? Do it this year! Want to take a trip? Go! Are there things about the holidays that you don’t enjoy? Don’t do them anymore. Remember there is not a right or wrong way to grieve. Do what is right for you and that may be a radically different holiday than you have had in the past. That is okay. It may even be fun.
This is where I am this year and I want to try something new as part of my holiday celebrating. I just haven’t figured out what. You can help. If you have any ideas, please share them in the comments. I would love to hear about them.
- How do you cope with your loss during the holidays?
- How has using a coping mechanism improved your holidays?