Holiday grief – two words that, when placed together, have the power to bring tears, fear, anger, pain, sadness, love, and a host of other responses. Knowing the power and effect of those two words, if you’re grieving, how do you deal with holiday grief?
I’ve been there and so have many of you, and the best answer I can give is to follow your heart.
The holidays (especially Christmas) bring a unique variety of stresses; however, the expectations you place on Christmas add unnecessary opportunities for disappointment or distress. Expectations set up a lose/lose situation. They are not good for you or for anyone else. So try your best to avoid placing any expectations on yourself, your loved ones, or whatever is included in your holiday ‘celebrations.’
When you’re grieving, you may or may not want to participate in the holidays in the same ways you typically have. Things have changed, and you have likely changed in certain ways. Here’s where ‘follow your heart’ comes in. This year, regardless of pressure from others or self-imposed pressure, I urge you to just follow your heart.
Follow Your Heart
With your heart as your guide, and the resolve to throw off any sense of guilt—simply do and participate in the activities you’re up to. You may not feel like celebrating as usual, but you can still observe the holidays (in ways you feel comfortable) and participate in a more quiet way than usual.
On the other hand, if you feel like celebrating, don’t feel guilty. Do what is right for you, and don’t worry about what someone else thinks about it. They are not living in your shoes.
Communication Is Key
Be polite, be kind, but be firm. If you’re not quite up for something, let your loved ones know. Don’t be afraid to express your thoughts and feelings. How can anyone who loves you object to your honest expression about where you are and what you feel? Open communication promotes understanding. How will they know if you don’t tell them? Leaving things up to someone else’s imagination nearly always leads to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
A Few Suggestions for Dealing with Holiday Grief
- Avoid being alone—so plan ahead! Simple plans (nothing stressful!), but don’t leave your plans up to chance or wait until the last minute to think about it
- Be with people you enjoy
- Don’t put yourself under unnecessary stress to be or do more than you’re comfortable with
- It’s okay to break away from tradition—you can return to tradition in future years, if you want
- Give grace to yourself and others
- Remember the good things you still have in your life and be thankful for your blessings
- Open your heart to the beauty and joy of the season—and always remember that joy does exist alongside of grief, even if it’s sometimes hard to tap into it. Just try …
Follow your heart. Grief is unquestionably a most painful passage to work through, but it is the way your heart heals. “Grief is the price we pay for love” is a well-worn phrase, but it happens to be the truth. Loss breaks your heart and grief helps your heart to heal.
Your heart is precious. It is the wellspring of life (Prov. 4:23). Take good care of it.
Follow your heart this Christmas season – and look for moments of joy alongside holiday grief you may be experiencing.
Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas …
© 2016 Judy Brizendine
Photo credit: unsplash.com