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Grief: The Real Grinch Coping the Holidays

Grief and Loss

It is supposed to be a happy, jolly and merry time of year. People smiling, giving, and singing. The season of peace and goodwill. Nights full of bright and sparkling lights. But for some, it is a terrible time of year marked by sadness, longing and missing. A season of anguish and frustration. Nights filled with heartache and darkness.

If you have had a loved one die, especially in the last few months or years, the holidays can be especially difficult. There can be a strong sense of disconnect and isolation from the ever seemingly bright world around us. Holiday songs and good cheer only bring tears and intolerance. Sparkling colored lights are to be avoided. The pressure to attend social gatherings and celebrations feels overwhelming.

What can you do for yourself if grief has stolen your holidays away? Here are a few strategies that may help:

  • Know that your breath is always there. Take a deep inhale and exhale. Remind yourself that the holidays are a moment in time and will pass. It is a season and will change like all seasons do.
  • Know you are not alone. Many people are feeling in similar ways. Fight the isolation and reach out to others. Find a community grief group, join an online grief forum or have breakfast with a supportive friend. There are people out there who will listen and understand.
  • Know it is OK to take small breaks. Take a walk during the day when the decorative lights are off, Stay home and watch a non holiday movie, go to a dog shelter and spread some love to our four legged friends. It may feel good to do something decidedly non holidayish.
  • Know that you don’t have to do it all. This year can look different. Make a choice to simplify. Maybe you don’t decorate, or send cards, or cook or attend every social gathering. If you have kids, let them choose what tradition means the most to them and compromise.
  • Know you can honor your missing loved one in many small ways. Have a gift dedicated to them. Make a donation in their name. Visit their gravesite or memorial. Light a candle and say their name.
  • Know that sometimes performing a random act of kindness can remove you from grief, even if for a brief moment.

Remember even The Grinch had love in his heart; love too is at the root of grief. Whatever you do to cope with the holiday season; trust that you are surviving. With every breath you are making it through. Sometimes that is the best we can do.   As always, be kind to yourself along the way.

This Post Written By:

Caryn Kondo – MSW – Therapy With Heart
8737 E. Via De Commercio, Suite 200
Scottsdale, Arizona 85258
Phone: (480) 888-5380
Fax: (480) 203-2881