As I began working on this blog post, I was notified that another beloved church member had passed away and by the end of the day, a friend had lost her father-in-law. For many of us, it is a time for family, food, fun, and lots of festivities; however, for others, it may be just the opposite. The holiday season can be a very difficult and painful time of year for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. There are many who are experiencing loss this holiday season–my family, my church family, my coworkers, my friends, and a local congregation mourning the loss of their beloved pastor. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalms 34:18 NKJV)
In an article titled, How to Deal with Grief During the Holiday (Psychology Today), Amy Morin shares her experience of grief. She states, “Christmas music, holiday parties, and festive decorations that were meant to bring joy served as painful reminders of my loss. As it is for most people experiencing loss, the holiday season was the most painful time of all.” Morin offers the following strategies that can help you survive the holidays without your loved one:
- Trust that grief is part of healing. Experiencing the pain, rather than escaping it, can actually help you feel better in the long-run.
- Set healthy boundaries. If participating in holiday traditions are too painful this year, be willing to say no. People may try to convince you to participate, but you do not have to please anyone.
- Focus on what you can control. Think about what you can do to lessen your pain. Choose things you can do to assert some control over the holiday festivities–keep in mind life goes on for other people and it is okay for them to celebrate the season.
- Plan ahead. Create a simple plan for how you will get through the holidays to avoid extending your anguish.
- Allow yourself to feel a range of emotions. The holidays can bring a wide range of emotions. Allow yourself to feel those emotions without judging yourself or thinking you should be happy or you should not be laughing.
- Find a way to honor your memories. Create a special way to memorialize the one you have lost–you could light a candle every night or eat their favorite food. Honoring your loved one can serve as a tangible reminder that they may be gone, but the love never dies.
- Create new traditions. Do not be afraid to create new traditions this year. It is okay to get creative and do something a little out of the ordinary.
- Do something kind for others. Even when you are in the midst of grief, you still have something to offer the world. Performing acts of kindness can be good for a grieving person’s spirit.
- Ask for help. Do not be afraid to ask for assistance when you are struggling with the holidays. Remind others you are having a difficult time or you may also want additional support such as a professional counselor to assist you in dealing with the grief in a healthy manner.
To my family, coworkers, church family, friends, those grieving the loss of their pastor, and to all others experiencing loss, I pray these strategies will be of some consolation in getting you through this difficult season. Please feel free to share your comments that it may be a source of healing for you and a sense of inspiration for others. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalms 147:3 NKJV)
Wishing everyone a wonderful and safe holiday season.
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