The holidays are chaotic, and when you’re dealing with the recent death of a loved one on top of it, it can feel insurmountable. However, there are practical ways to get through the first holiday season after the loss of a partner, family member, or friend.
Even if you and your loved one didn’t make a fuss about the holidays, it’s perfectly normal to feel sad, angry, or hopeless during this time. Time with family and friends is emphasized during the holidays, and it may be a trigger for your grief. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings during this time to help you process your loss, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re struggling.
Sometimes it helps to talk about your loved one at holiday gatherings. If your family or friend group is also suffering this loss, sharing memories, traditions, and funny stories can help provide comfort to everyone. If it’s a more personal loss, the support of those around you may alleviate your loneliness.
Lightening your workload is a good way to remove some of the stress of the holiday season, especially the first year. If you typically host holidays, cook meals, or take charge of other plans, let your loved ones know you’re not up for it this year so they can make other arrangements. On the other hand, if you enjoy those activities and find that they help you cope with your grief, allow yourself the joy of taking part.
The bottom line is that your mental health is your number one priority this holiday season. Self-care is critical; you may have heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” You are not obligated to do anything you feel you can’t handle or that exacerbates your grief. Communicate with family and friends if you feel it’s best to sit certain events out this year and suggest making plans to get together after the holidays.
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