Holiday grief is it’s own animal. You have the everyday grief that exists as you go about your daily life missing your person or your people, and then you add in a time of the year that we typically gather as families and friends, hold traditions and spend extra time together. During no other time is more blatant and blaring and obvious that someone is missing. It’s a painful, hollowness that I’ve found nowhere else.
I’ve found that these four things really help me to navigate the holidays with a little more intention. All of this, knowing that I first have to just feel my feelings and allow them to be what they are. I have also learned to be very aware of how what things I say, think, do, and allow in my brain affect the outcome.
Of course love would be first, right? I always try to show up with love. And by that I mean this…
I love myself first, right where I am. I love those around me right where they are. When I show up in love, the results are always better than if I’m showing up or making decisions from a place of despair or hopelessness or guilt or anger. If I come from a place of love for myself and my family, then the decisions that are necessary to make for the holiday become a bit easier and always have a better outcome.
Boundaries. Boundaries are nothing more than love. Love for you. Love for others. Say no when you need or want to. If saying yes sounds dreadful, exhausting or completely unbearable, it’s totally ok to say no. Say yes when it feels good and right to say yes. And always refer to tip number one. Before deciding, ask yourself if you’re coming from the emotion of love, or if you’re making choices from another emotions. Again, you’ll get better results and set healthy boundaries when coming from love.
Understanding. This is huge. No two people grief the same. It’s so personal and individual. What feels awful to one, might feel healing to another. It’s so unique and individual. I try hard to always give my family, especially my kids, options in everything we do pertaining to holidays, traditions, etc. Especially those firsts, when everything is new and fresh and oh so raw. Some traditions get amped up while others are placed on hold for a year or even completely put away. Then there are always the new traditions we create to honor our loved ones who are no longer here. Hold lots of understanding, for both yourself and your family, for however they need to personally navigate the holidays. And as always, refer to tip number one.
Selfcare. I think this one can be tricky. This one can feel completely necessary and non-negotiable or we will sometimes sweep it right out the door and pretend it’s not at all necessary. Self care is vital. It doesn’t have to look like big, lavish things. Sometimes self care is a nap, or allowing ourselves to sleep longer in the morning so we’re getting the rest our bodies need. Maybe it’s asking for help. Maybe it’s making sure we’re drinking water and eating foods that are nourishing our body. Maybe it’s some alone time or asking for someone to connect to and with. Maybe it’s a long cry or a hot bath. The important part is to be aware of what you need and then grant yourself the privilege of getting it, having it or doing it. And as always, refer to tip number one.
Holiday grief can be more intense than day to day grief. Try on some of these ideas. And always remember to feel whatever feelings come up for you. Despite our best intentions, sometimes, it just overtakes us, if only for a minute. You’re feelings are valid. It’s totally normal to feel all the things after you lose a child or other loved one. Just allow your emotions to come and to be. There is nothing wrong with you if all you can feel is deep sadness and when you feel great joy, there is nothing wrong with that either. It’s all part of the very normal human experience of grief.
Sending light and love as we navigate this holiday season with our person (or people) in heaven.
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