Every year comes to an end during the joyous holiday season. Whether you’re celebrating a great year, or looking forward to the next, most people agree that the holiday season brings challenges. There is one burden, however, that adds weight to our journey through the holidays. Grief at Christmas is an unwelcomed intruder that forces its way through the door.
When we are dealing with the death of a loved one, grief is sure to find a place at the table. Denying the presence of grief does not make it go away. It only becomes stronger by our resistance. But, if we admit that grief has a rightful place in our lives, we have a chance of minimizing its damage. Nothing, of course, is ever simple, but here are 10 strategies you can turn to that will help reduce the devastation that grief can leave in its wake.
10 Tactics to Cope with Grief at Christmas
- Seek company. Far too many people believe that they have to be “strong and independent.” They feel obligated to get through on their own. If you have a family, go to them or ask them to come to you. It doesn’t matter how long ago you lost the loved one, it is THIS year that matters.
- Memorialize your loved one. One woman who recently lost her husband was devastated about decorating the Christmas tree. It was something they always did together. A friend suggested that she choose a new angel to top the tree this year, to commemorate her husband. You might hang a stocking with that person’s name on it, or buy a special ornament.
- Seek diversion. It is perfectly acceptable to divert yourself. Sometimes, that diversion is in the form of getting together with others. But, when that is not possible, try something else. Are you a reader? There are apps available from which you can get free books in any genre you like. You can read these with a computer or eReader and select the size of print and the color of background you want. Or, watch a movie, take a walk, or spend some time with a hobby. There are businesses in most cities that offer hobby activities such as painting and ceramics, which are completed in one evening.
- Help others. This always the “fall back” activity for those going through grief at Christmas or any other time, but the reason it is a common theme is because it works! By participating in social services during this time, we are reminded of the blessings we have remaining and can become a blessing to others.
- Keep going. It is OK to admit that some days are harder than others. These are the times that we take one step at a time. And, that’s enough. Just take one more step.
- Attend Christmas Pageants. Your area schools and churches are in a frenzy of activity these days preparing their Christmas pageants. It may be as simple as a PTA program with a 4th Grade Santa, or it may be the local rendition of Handel’s Messiah. You are bound to find yourself smiling at some point.
- Balance time you spend alone with time for others. Solitude is inevitable for anyone and can give you a chance to regroup and stabilize your emotions. But, don’t isolate yourself. Go get coffee with a friend. Call or Skype someone special to you.
- Attend Worship Services. Worship services at this time of year, in most churches, are full of warmth, color, and beautiful music that can be a balm to a tired soul. If you have a friend who has been nagging you to accompany them, go. Yes, it may be out of your comfort zone, but so is grief!
- It is OK to skip part of it. If you are grieving at Christmas this year, it is perfectly all right to change some of the traditions or create new ones. It gives you some control over what seems to be an uncontrollable situation.
- Give to charity. Again, with the giving away! But yes, giving a gift to a charity in the name of your loved one is a lovely way to bring hope and happiness to others. You’ll find yourself feeling better, too.
It is your holiday, too, and grief at Christmas may be inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be omnipresent. When you can’t cope with it alone, call someone.
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