This time of the year is meant to be cheerful and celebratory, but in reality, for many, the holidays are often experienced with a tint of loss. While many feel happy over holiday decorations, rituals and time spent among family, others experience sadness and mixed feelings over the passage of time and the reminder of missed opportunities. This year is particularly difficult, with no way to avoid loss on a personal and global level.
Directly or indirectly, we’ve all been affected by COVID-19. It’s a difficult topic to escape, one that has taken almost 2 million lives worldwide. For those experiencing grief over the loss of a family member due to COVID-19, it’s virtually impossible to escape grief during the holiday season.
While there’s no shortcut for grieving, there are ways of making these experiences healthier and more manageable. Here are a few tips that can help you cope with grief during the holiday season:
Try your best to let go of expectations
The holiday season is tied to a lot of expectations, whether they’re related to the food you’ll be eating, the amount of drinking you’ll be doing or the company you keep. Rising cases of COVID-19 have thrown all planning out the window, with many choosing to spend the holidays alone in order to keep their family safe.
There’s no need to maintain a celebratory mood, even when going through the holidays or meeting up with others. It’s been a difficult year and you should give yourself permission to not celebrate if you don’t want to. If you feel happy and joyful, it’s also important to avoid punishing yourself over your feelings.
Plan, plan, plan
While you may choose to not do anything this holiday season, having a plan might help you stay busy. Planning ahead of time helps people face adversity better, making them feel more prepared and purposeful. Making plans with friends or loved ones is also especial during the holiday season; while you may have lost someone, there are still people who love you and want to spend time with you.
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Still, if the holidays remind you too much of someone and you fear reminiscing, it’s okay. Talk it out with your friends and family and let them know that while you still love them, you’d prefer to avoid celebrations of any sort. Reach a compromise over ways of connecting and staying in touch while also giving you the necessary space to grieve.
Be compassionate with yourself
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There’s no “right way” to grieve, which can be disorienting and frustrating. The grieving process changes from person to person, with some experiencing marked sadness and others taking more time to untangle their feelings. If you feel happy and are smiling throughout the season, it’s okay. It’s also okay if you’re experiencing the opposite. Allow yourself to feel your feelings and to learn how your grieving process works as you go through with it.