Coping with Post-Holiday Grief

The Holidays are Over, Now What?

Finding your way to a new life in the new year can help you recover from loss

By Vern Miranda, co-founder,
The Holidays are Over, Now What?

Immediately following the winter holidays a common phenomenon strikes countless people and its name is post-holiday depression.
This despair can become even greater when coping with the loss of a loved one.

In this post, I’d like to share some ideas that might help you continue on your path to healing the void in your life and eventually get back to living once all the ribbons and garland have been put away.

Ease away from feeling that there is something wrong with you

The winter holiday season is one of bright festivities and colorful decorations that can last for over a month. There’s joyous music, the exchanging of gifts, wonderful foods and the gathering of family and friends. And then suddenly it’s all gone; packed away for another year. Many of us feel there’s something wrong with us simply because it isn’t a cheerful time anymore.
Add a loved one’s death to the mix, and that anguish can compound tenfold.

The holidays may have provided a welcome distraction from your grieving. But now that the distraction is gone your sorrow may feel stronger than before. Don’t despair that something is wrong with you;that you feel worse instead of better. Instead, take comfort in remembering that you are attempting to adjust to an extreme change in your life – the death of a loved one – and that figuring out how to regain some semblance of living as you did before that passing is a huge task.

Many have found that by breaking down this challenge into smaller, more easily managed pieces they can gradually move to recovery. Also, talking with a trusted and patient friend or seeing a professional grief counselor can also help ease the feeling that there is something wrong.

Think of the new year as a good starting point for a new perspective

Many people see the month January as an opportunity for positive change. It’s the beginning of a fresh year. Why not seize it as the chance to really begin healing your life? To be sure, you will have alone time. Use it to evaluate your priorities. Ease into change. Try new activities, which can introduce you to new friends. Perhaps this is the perfect time to consider a fresh job or even moving to a different city – some place where you’ve always dreamed of living! Study that new language you’ve wanted to learn for so long. Take dance lessons or join a class; maybe learn to play a musical instrument. Or sign up for volunteer work, as helping others can help you feel better as well.

The new year is a time of new hope. Take advantage of it; after a while you may suddenly realize that your sadness is starting to fade, that you are getting better.

Remember to take care of yourself

Even if the post-holidays themselves don’t create stress, for those in mourning the desire for isolation can be strong. You don’t get enough sleep. You aren’t hungry, or if you are, you turn to less healthy food choices either for comfort or convenience. You take to your bed or easy chair. You don’t move. Everyone who gathered around you at the holidays has gone back to his or her routine leaving you feeling left behind. That’s why it’s so important to take care of yourself.

Now, it isn’t necessary to join an expensive gym to stay active; there are plenty of things you can do such as simply walking around the block. And don’t forget to exercise your brain as well! Check out classes at your community college or study online subjects you’ve always found interesting. And stock the pantry and refrigerator with fresh, basic, healthy foods that can be simply prepared. Exercise of any kind for both body and mind, plus healthy foods, can help tremendously in your journey back to living.

Before I leave you I’d like you to please keep in mind: that the feelings of something being wrong with you can actually be part of the grief healing process. That using the New Year is the perfect starting point for positive changes. And that remembering to take good care of yourself can aid in that healing. Together they can ease the challenge of recovering from sorrow and getting back to living.

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