If you’re anything like me, you still have a few holiday gifts to pick up. There really isn’t anything quite like strolling through the mall during the holidays. The sparkling decorations, the festive music, and other trappings of the season can really put you in a holiday mood. But that’s not the case for everyone.
If you’ve lost someone – whether it occurred around the holidays or not – this time of year can be particularly difficult. There are so many expectations that come with the season – joy, fun, family togetherness, and even romance. It’s not difficult for your grief to completely overwhelm all of those other wonderful feelings.
If this describes what you’re going through, we hope you will reach out to the caring, compassionate staff at Cypress Lawn. We can connect you with a member of the clergy or counselor in the Bay Area whom you can speak to. You can also always access our online, interactive grief support.
We would also recommend some “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for getting through the holidays after a loss:
DON’T put pressure on yourself or your family.
Particularly if this is your first holiday without your loved one, plan to hold your traditions a little loosely. Certain events or practices might be too painful for you or other family members. It’s okay to be flexible, and it’s okay to change or even eliminate traditions. On the flip side, if someone else in your family opts to skip Christmas breakfast or another tradition, extend them grace to grieve in their own way.
DO look for ways to give back.
If you have the physical and emotional strength, you might find that serving those in need is a real boost to your spirits. There are a number of local charities and churches in the Bay Area that reach out to the less fortunate during the holidays. They would probably be grateful for your help!
DON’T overextend your schedule.
Processing grief takes a tremendous amount of emotional and physical energy. It’s easy to let your calendar fill up with holiday events, either to distract yourself, or because you don’t want to disappoint others by declining. Make sure you give yourself the time and the space to experience and manage your emotions and your energy level.
DON’T overspend or overindulge.
It can be tempting to soothe your pain with a little retail therapy – whether with gifts for yourself or the people you love. But the bills that will come in January will add to your stress level. Set your holiday budget early on and stick with it.
Along the same lines, keep an eye on the amount of holiday goodies and cocktails you indulge in. A healthy, well-nourished body goes a long way to bolstering your mental health.
DO be patient with yourself.
Remember that grief is a very personal, individualized process. Be patient with yourself, forgive yourself, and if you feel like you need to talk to someone, please reach out to us at Cypress Lawn so we can connect you with the resources you need.
Most importantly, try to focus on the real reason for the season. It’s not about having the kind of life depicted on the front of a greeting card or in a sappy holiday movie. It’s about real love – the love you shared with your friend or family member who touched your life in so many ways. Your grief, as difficult as it is, is evidence of that amazing gift of love.
No matter your circumstances, I – along with the entire Cypress Lawn staff – wish you and your family a joyous, peaceful holiday season.