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How To Grieve During the Holidays

by Kayla Mulligan

It may not be the “most wonderful time of the year” for everyone. The holidays often signify family gatherings, revivals of old traditions and more. For many, these festivities are overshadowed by the people who are missing this holiday season.

It may be your first or fifteenth holiday season riddled with grief, and that’s okay. Grief can feel all-consuming, and the holiday season can spark triggers that some of us didn’t even know we had.

Even so, you’re not alone. There are ways that we can combat those pessimistic feelings.

Here are some things you can try this holiday season to ease into the festivities.

Communicate With Your Support System

Even if you feel that your struggles seem obvious, it sometimes doesn’t change that people don’t know how to approach you during this time. Let your close family or friends know that you may be struggling this holiday season. You can even go over some specific ways they can help you.

Whether that’s skipping some traditions that may be triggering or making a signal for leaving an event early, you can find ways you and your close ones can meet yourself where you are.

Honor Your Loved One

It can be nice to set time aside to dedicate to your missing one this season. If you’re like me, you may feel it’s sometimes easy to try and carry on the days as usual as much as possible without confronting your struggles. But, I can speak to that and share that it’s vital to address your loss. It can even make you feel closer to who you’re missing.

I like going to some old spots that I associate with my loved ones and being in nature. It can remind you of past memories and let you feel what you need to feel.

Avoid Social Media

I think we can all attest to the negatives of social media. The posts of families eating turkey and wholesome paragraphs about this time of year can heighten those feelings of grief.

It helps to turn off the phone and focus on what’s in front of you. Grief can already make your mind feel like it’s trying to process a hundred feelings and thoughts at once, you don’t need to add the superficial layer of social media to your struggles.

Share Your Truth

The holidays typically entail an extent of self-sharing that can become exhausting. Add to that a layer of grief and loss, and it can make small talk feel nauseating. When family may ask how you are this season, don’t feel pressured to keep conversation superficial and easy.

You have the freedom to share your feelings and your struggles. That does not make you a “Debbie downer,” it makes you a human being opening up about a difficult time of your life. If you’re comfortable speaking about your grief, speak your truth and share your story.

Recognize Your Feelings

It can be easy to ignore the sadness and pain and focus on getting through the day. What’s most important is that in the rush of the holidays, you take a minute to check in with yourself. There will be happy music, laughing children, fresh baked goods, and it is still okay that you are grieving.

Grief and the holidays are such a juxtaposition that it makes us feel like we need to embrace one or the other. But, that’s the farthest from the truth. You’re allowed to cry when you hear a jolly song or excuse yourself from a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner for a breath of fresh air. It’s a difficult, even weird time, but you can experience the holidays in any way that brings you the most comfort.

There is no right or wrong way, there is just embracing your journey with grief and understanding that you are worth the process.

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