For some, the festive / holiday season may not be as joyous as it is for most others. It can be especially challenging if you’re dealing with any kind of misfortune like a broken relationship or grave financial losses or the, the loss of someone close. The festive season can heighten and be overwhelming to those who are still dealing with grief.
Since one is expected to be cheerful and merry, some also feel hesitant to seek assistance thinking that asking for a shoulder to weep on during the festive season would be selfish and unfair to others. This adds to the loneliness and fear and could also give rise to feelings of panic, isolation and helplessness.
Psychologically speaking, we need to understand that ‘grief’ is a uniquely personal concept – everyone processes their pain differently, and the time taken to may vary accordingly. Mourning is a multifaceted process with no distinct stages. Sadness, anger, resentment, longing, numbness, lack of concentration, inability to attend, loss of appetite, sleeping issues, spinning the same thoughts and memories over and over, not believing that your loved one is truly gone (denial), anxiety, and hopelessness are all part of the grieving process. There is no right or wrong way to it.
It’s important to pay attention to your own emotions associated with the sense of hurt that the festive season could bring up. You may react more sensitively or feel detached from those around you.
For many, dealing with grief is like facing a fear. Therefore, like facing any fear, it’s important that we challenge ourselves. Be patient, resilient and don’t be afraid to do it at your own pace, one step at time. There’s no right or wrong way to approach the festive blues when you’re grieving. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings, not avoid them.
You could experience negative and positive feelings during the festive season while grieving, and that is alright. Be kind to yourself and remember that all feelings can coexist. Seek support from friends, family, co-workers and professionals, if needed. If you are experiencing the festive blues, especially after having a loved one, here are a few basic coping tips:
- Give yourself time out to feel sad and process the loss. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings.
- Look after yourself – accept that this is a tough time for you and that you need to treat yourself with extra care. If possible, make some time each day to treat yourself to something you enjoy.
- For those grieving the loss of a loved one, think about all the things you liked about the person. Do something that you used to do together. Write them a letter expressing your feelings. Share some of your memories of them with others.
- Volunteer/Do Something Charitable – helping others helps alleviate your pain while bringing joy into someone else’s life who needs it.
- It’s okay to enjoy this time – you might find it difficult to celebrate when you’re hurting or missing someone you love. You might experience a whole range of emotions, including sadness, guilt, or even excitement. Getting together with family and close friends may be a chance to remember the good times and to laugh.
- You might find it useful to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. This could be a family member, friend or a co-worker. If you’re finding it hard to cope with day-to-day stuff, then it may help to talk to someone such as a counsellor.
The holiday season is not always as merry as we want it to be. It’s alright to have a mix of complex emotions. Remember, that there is no right or wrong way to approach the holiday season when you’re grieving loss. Be kind to yourself and try to take it one day and one feeling at a time.