Handling the Holidays When You’re Feeling Blue

Handling the Holidays When You’re Feeling Blue

Courtesy Jenkins-Soffe, Salt Lake City LIVING WELL Magazine

We often hear the greeting “Happy Holidays” this time of year, but if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, the holiday season may be anything but happy. Sometimes the holidays cause us to be more aware of the empty space that our loved one has left behind.

The many images of family togetherness or the unrealistic expectations of “picture-perfect” joyful gatherings can cause tremendous stress for all of us, not to mention those feeling the isolating experience of a loss. In our culture and in the media, the pressure to produce warm and wonderful holiday memories for our families is overwhelming and when we’re surrounded by traditions, even the happiest memories can hurt. When we are in the midst of pain and it seems the rest of the world is in the mood to give thanks and celebrate, we need to find ways to manage our grief and get through the season as best we can.

The following are some ideas that may help…

Do Things Differently

Sit down with your family and decide what you want to do for the holiday season and don’t set expectations too high for yourself or the day. If you wish things to be the same, you may be disappointed. Do things a little differently and undertake only what each family member can handle comfortably. Keep in mind the feelings of other family members and try to make the holiday season as joyous as possible for them.

Share the Day

Try volunteering at soup kitchens or visit the lonely and shut-ins. Ask someone who is alone to share the day with your family or provide help for a needy family. Thinking of others can help relieve some of your own pain and sadness.

Let Relatives Know

Be careful of “shoulds.” It is better to do what is most helpful for you and your family. If a situation looks especially difficult over the holidays, don’t get involved if possible and once you have made the decision, let relatives and friends know.

It’s the Thought

Let your children, other family members, friends, or people from your church help with the decorating of the tree and house. If you choose not have a tree this year, just get a small table top tree. And, if shopping seems to be too much, have someone help you. Consider shopping on the internet or from catalogs. Remember, it’s the thought that counts!

Love and Support

Lastly, share your concerns, feelings or apprehensions with a relative or friend as the holiday approaches. Tell them that this is a difficult time for you, then accept their help. Their love and support will help make this time of year a little brighter.

For more information about grief recovery, go to www.griefrecoverymethod.com or www.jenkins-soffe.com.