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November 2017

10 Ways to Survive Grief During the Holidays

Holidays Red and Pink Christmas Lights

If holidays and grief don’t seem like they would go together, you are not far off from traditional thinking. I refuse to survive the holidays but seek to survive grief during the holidays. Last year I completely bailed on the holidays and went for a two-week vacation with my daughter to Europe. Rome and Paris were beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but I found out you cannot outrun Christmas. We spent Christmas Day eating macaroons, drinking mimosas and watching cartoons all day. So, this being my First Christmas, in my estimation, since my husband passed February 10th, 2016, how am I going to spend it you might ask. Like I do most things now I am going to embrace it but in my own way. First, I have asked myself some questions like: “What does Christmas really mean to me? How do I want to celebrate this meaning? Who do I want to be with when I am celebrating?”

Here are 10 ways to Survive Grief during the Holidays:

1. Make a list of all the things you do for Christmas including traditions and tasks. You get to decide which ones you want to do this year or not, maybe next year. Do what you feel comfortable doing. Give yourself some grace to decide not to do some things this year.

2. You knew it was coming. Add New things to your list of to do this Christmas and New Years. Add something special just for you. A special gift you buy yourself or a new tradition such as lighting a candle for your loved one’s memory and presence. Take a new slant on a long-standing tradition.

3. Don’t feel guilty about letting yourself smile, laugh and enjoy the holidays. Your loved one would have wanted that for you.

4. If going to party or event prepare yourself for possible questions with a set answer to repeat over and over.

5. If invitations are daunting just give a “Tentative Yes” or “I’ll let you know”. Remember it’s okay to excuse yourself from attending or excuse yourself early from a party.

6. Recognize your blessings even if it hasn’t felt like the best year of your life.

7. Help others by volunteering for those less fortunate than you. It will get your mind off yourself and can bring joy and thankfulness into your life.

8. Avoid emotional ambushes by not putting yourself in situations where this will happen because of your sense of duty.

9. Turn to God or your higher power for grace in prayer. Use your silent time wisely to relax and grow in spirituality. I recommend a Griefshare group. They are running Surviving the Holidays seminars. Here is the link to find out more about one in your area: https://www.griefshare.org/

10. Most importantly love yourself. I know Christmas and other holidays we are supposed to think of others but it’s ok to put yourself first this year. There will be more years and more Christmas times. Here is my article on relaxing and stress relief: https://www.patriciamckenna.blog/stress-relief-grief-process/

I will be digging deep inside for strength and grace these holidays. This may be the last Christmas before my daughter goes to college and the last Christmas my son is still a college student but it is a new Christmas for me. It will come with blessings, tears, laughter, mistakes, and all the messiness that makes life worth living. Happy Holidays! Peace and all Good!