On a Holiday with Grief
By Grief Support Counselors at The Genesis Grief Support Cooperative
Be Engaged with Your Grief
“I saw the world in black and white instead of the vibrant
colours and shades I knew existed.” - Katie McGarry,
Pushing the Limits
Grief is a natural response to loss, especially heightened during the holiday season. Rather than avoiding feelings of grief, lean into and attend to them. It is not the grief you want to avoid; it is the pain from the results of having to live with the loss of a physical connection to someone whom you deeply love that met various significant needs for you. There are many ways to remember your loved one during this special time of year and celebrate the love that connects you in your relationship.
For most, being a part of times of celebration indicates life is moving on. Because holidays symbolize sharing time with those you love most, how can you be expected to smile during these times of celebration when a very special loved one is no longer present? In fact, these special markers in time can intensity your loss. Sorrow may feel greater and the loneliness more isolating. Some even feel they may never enjoy a holiday again. Holidays will definitely never be the same as once before, yet may remain a time for meaningful connection.
Believe a Holiday Can Still Be a Time of Connection and Meaning
“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”
- C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
Friends and relatives usually believe they know what is best for you, perhaps even when it is not near a holiday. Those who love you are doing their best to be of comfort and support. However, you possess wisdom within yourself in knowing what you need to find comfort, meaning, and connection at this holiday.
A holiday can be different, yet still be good. Only you get to decide what is best for you. You also have the right to change your mind at any given time. Evaluate what parts of the holiday you desire to be a part of and those with which you wish to participate. Perhaps create new traditions to be incorporated with some of treasured rituals in adding meaning during this holiday.
Holidays are opportunities for connection with others. Because you may be feeling especially emotionally sensitive around the holidays, sometimes a plan can give you direction during this difficult time.
Make two different plans. Your initial plan may be to have dinner with family or friends. If this initial plan does not seem best in providing connection and comfort, simply move on to Plan B. This second plan may be watching a movie you and your loved once enjoyed, looking through photographs in recollection of memories, or going to a special place you and your loved one once shared.
Allow Space For Your Feelings
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also
suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving
serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”
- Leo Tolstoy
A holiday has some of the heaviest weight of grief to manage after your loss. There is no right or wrong way to address feelings of grief. The way you navigate this experience is as unique as you are. Remember to honor your loved one and the special relationship of love and connection you share.
Allow space for your feelings by finding opportunities to reflect, express, and share your memories, thoughts and emotions. Explore meaningful ways to remember, celebrate, and honor your loved one’s life. Share their story and yours. Celebrate traditions as well as explore new ones. Allow others to support and comfort you, but protect your heart. Listen to the wisdom within, doing only what you desire and brings you comfort. Be gentle with yourself engaging in things that nurture your soul and fill your life with love.
Help Is Here
Visit www.genesishealth.com/grief for more support. You may also contact a Genesis Grief Support staff member at 563-421-5000.