PERSPECTIVE/Getting Through the Holidays

The holiday season, a time filled with memories, presents difficulties for those who have recently lost a love one. Here are some helpful hints to get through the next few weeks.

Transitional phase – Take one holiday, one event, one occasion at a time. The changes you make this year are not permanent. Try to view the holidays as a series of small events that you can handle one at a time.

Anticipation – Negative anticipation is often worse than the actual experience. When anticipating the future, we neglect to consider the potential for unexpected support and our creative capacity for survival.

Identify your feelings – You need to learn to recognize, acknowledge and communicate your feelings – naming your fears and negative anticipation can help diffuse their power.

Family discussion and planning – Some sharing and planning in advance can help avoid misunderstanding and offers an opportunity to develop an understanding for different perspectives and individual needs.

Likelihood of pain – The pressure and significance of the holidays can intensify anyone’s natural emotional state. For many reasons this is undeniably a difficult time for you and your family. Therefore, expect periods of deep emotion. Worrying about crying becomes an additional burden. Allow yourself time to feel and talk about your emotions, as well as finding new ways to express feelings safely.

Something different – something the same – Be willing to evaluate what rituals and customs are truly important to you and family, as well as what can be changed, adapted or let go. Try doing some things differently and some things the same. Discover and create new and original ways for you and your family to recognize and mark this holiday.

Resist isolation – Try to be with people you are most comfortable with. Tell someone when you are hurting or feel alone. Accept whatever support is available.

A time to remember – Instead of avoiding memories, the holidays can be a time of purposely honoring and remembering the life of your loved one through stories and rituals.

Simplicity – Try to keep planning and celebrations simple by considering your emotional reserve. You do not need to exhaust yourself trying to keep things the same as in previous years. Recognize that things will be different.

No right or wrong – Be conscious of rigid expectations of yourself and others and be willing to let go of “should” or fear of other’ judgement. Be aware of and respect your own limits.

Flexibility – Your emotional needs may change from day to day. Learn to be more flexible. Allow for moment-to-moment alterations in your plans. Try not to be too hard on yourself.

Respect your own limits – Grieving is a time of recuperation. Learn to ask for help and support. Take short cuts if need be. Learn to set limits, giving yourself permission to say yes or no to demands or requests, as needed. Watch for tendencies to overdo, to cover up or avoid feelings.

Stress reduction – The holidays are traditionally a time of increased stress. Allow time for rest and renewal. Learn new ways to balance stress with self-care and relaxation.

Spirituality – Find support and strength in some form of expression of spirituality. If faith and religious rituals are a part of your life, express it in ways that are appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around others who share your beliefs. It may help bring meaning or reason to the season.

By Author Unknown