COPING WITH GRIEF DURING THE HOLIDAYS
By Natalia Hernandez, Director of Market Development, VITAS Healthcare
Coping with the death of a loved one can be very difficult, especially during the holidays. Memories of good times and togetherness serve as reminders of our loss. Watching others enjoy time with their families and loved ones when we feel overwhelmed, lonely or sad can be very painful. Each day can be a reminder of how much our lives have been changed by the loss of our loved one.
Tips for Coping with Grief during the Holidays
- Set realistic expectations for yourself. Remind yourself that this year will be different. Decide if you can still handle the responsibilities you’ve had in the past and ask yourself if you want to continue doing them. Being able to accept help is important during the healing process.
- Surround yourself with people who love and support you. Share your plans with family and friends and let them know of any intended changes in your schedule or routine. Memories can sometimes be a source of comfort to the bereaved, so don’t shy away from sharing your memories.
- Try to avoid “canceling” upcoming events despite the temptation. It is OK to avoid some circumstances that you don’t feel ready to handle, but avoid completely isolating yourself. Allow yourself some time for solitude, remembering and grieving, but balance it with planned activities with others.
- Allow yourself to feel joy, sadness or anger- allow yourself to grieve. It is important to recognize that every family member has their own unique grief experience and may have different needs. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Experiencing joy and laughter does not mean you have forgotten your loved one.
- Take Care of Yourself. Try to avoid overexerting yourself. Find ways to release your grief, for example, endorphins from physical exercise can help against depression or writing in a journal can be a good outlet to express how you feel.
The most important thing to remember is there is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holiday season after the death of a loved one. The best way to cope with that first holiday season is to plan ahead, get support from others, and take it easy.
VITAS Healthcare is the nation’s leading provider of palliative and end-of-life care services. VITAS is committed to providing information, education and resources to help those who have experienced the loss of a loved one. VITAS provides targeted grief support for at least a year following the death of a patient it has served and is also committed to serving the community by hosting free bereavement support groups. For more information about VITAS or bereavement services, please visit www.VITAS.com or call (407) 875-0028.