Grief Support During the Holidays

Grief can sometimes feel exacerbated throughout the holiday season. 

2020 seems to have been particularly difficult for many people.  We often grieve more than the loss of the important people in our lives.  We also grieve the loss of pets, jobs, dreams, relationships, home environments, and more.  This year, additionally, many are experiencing the loss of health, loss of freedom, loss of business, and loss of sense of normalcy due to social and/or physical isolation.

People don’t have to grieve alone.

There is help for those who are grieving and want support throughout the holidays.  The holidays are an important time to ask for help and receive support from family, friends, or even a therapist. Asking for help allows for friends and family the joy of fulfilling a need to assist and show support through times of loss.  It gives people a sense of purpose.  When we are feeling overwhelmed and it feels impossible to accomplish everything, it’s important to ask for help.  The belief that asking for help means we are somehow weak or inferior is a myth.  In truth, asking for help is empowering as it requires courage.

Seeking professional help is ok.

It’s important to give ourselves permission to seek professional help if life becomes too much to handle.  There are also grief support groups where people can talk to other people who are going through similar experiences.  It can help to hear other people’s stories and it’s even possible to provide support for others while healing our own grief as well.

Give yourself permission to grieve.

Grieving happens in stages and delivers a variety of feelings and emotions.  Sometimes our feelings and emotions may even conflict with one another.  For example, we may feel incredible sadness for and longing about a missing loved one and yet angry simultaneously about the circumstances.  Grief is hard, and it’s a process, much like a marathon as opposed to a sprint.  Do not resist the feelings, lest they persist.  Instead, allow them to flow like rivers, whatever they feel, look, or sound like.

Find a safe person.

It’s important to find someone trustworthy and dependable during the holiday season, especially.  This is a person we can rely on and be honest about our feelings with.  This person can be a loved one, a friend, or a therapist.

Follow your intuition.

Some people want to keep things the same once a loved one is gone (for example setting a place at the table for them).  For others, the void feels much to expansive to display.  Being open to creating new holiday traditions can be helpful.  Work with other family members to brainstorm new ways of celebrating and incorporating loved ones who have passed (if that is the desire).

Forget about judgment of others.

Many people cannot help but be judgmental.  Just because someone else chooses judgment, does not mean we have to.  Every single person will grieve in their own way and in their own timing.  It’s important to give yourself freedom and permission to do it your way.  Don’t allow other people to influence you and your grief.  Your process is sacred and spiritual.  And it’s nobody’s else’s business (unless you choose to invite them in).

Take each day moment by moment.

It’s not a race and no one is being timed.  There will be days when we breakdown and feel like we cannot function.  There will be other days when life feels like a breeze.  We may then feel guilty when we experience a good day or too many bad days.  Just go with whatever comes up, moment by moment.  Periods of grief can be compared to “chop wood, carry water” type times in our lives.  It can be helpful to focus on the mundane.  Focusing on the mundane allows for our brain to have a purpose so they’re not wandering and/or repeating old stories.

If the loss is traumatic EMDR or EFT can help.

EMDR and EFT are both specific forms of therapy which target problematic memories which tend to get trapped in the brain (it’s kind of like undigested food in the stomach- trauma is like undigested information in the brain).  They are good therapies to explore for support when we are experiencing symptoms of PTSD like nightmares, intrusive thoughts/memories, flashbacks, hypervigilance, and even dissociation.



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