Christmas is perhaps the brightest of holidays for many of you — unless you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one recently. Here are some ideas to get you through it without crumbling.
by Vern Miranda, co-founder of iComfortis.com
The passing of a loved one has already created a large hole in your life and left you feeling empty and alone. And the arrival of Christmas, well, it only amplifies that pain. Everywhere you look is filled with grief triggers — the empty recliner near the fireplace, no gifts for your loved one. The face you loved with all your heart is missing, their comforting voice now silent.
I won’t pretend to know how you feel. I can’t. I can, however, offer a few ideas that may help you rekindle your spirit during this time and get back to living.
Don’t Dread Christmas
Often it’s the anticipation of the holiday that causes the most despair, not the actual day itself. Family and friends will naturally want to draw you into their celebrations in an effort to ease your pain. Don’t feel guilty if you’re just not up to it. Make your apologies and heal. They’ll understand. And instead of thinking about this Christmas and what ‘should have been,’ reminisce about how your loved one made all your previous holidays together so warm and joyous.
Take a Time-Out
Your energy is likely low, for grief is exhausting. That’s why it’s okay to cut back on all the beautiful clutter and activities that can be Christmas and rest instead. If you’re not up to decorating the house, or simply can’t face the idea of addressing and mailing holiday cards, minimize what you do. And if you can, avoid the typical and perhaps try something different.
Seek Joy and Comfort from Your Faith
Many of us see Christmas not as a celebration of shopping in over-crowded malls and giving commercially produced gifts, or over-indulging in food and drink. Rather, we see it as the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, who many believe was placed upon Earth to help us find our way to a peaceful, productive life and find true rewards in the hereafter. Turning to your religion can go surprisingly far in lessening your sorrow.
Watch What You Eat and Drink
Christmas is a time of many social gatherings, filled with rich foods and perhaps too much alcohol. Wild swings in your diet can cause sugar highs and lows that are known to induce depression, so monitor your intake and include plenty of natural, healthy foods in your diet; and make sure you get enough sleep.
Don’t Try to Lock Out Your Grief
Grief is natural. Trying to deny your pain ‘because of the holiday’ will only set you up for deeper pain later. Weeping helps ease depression; it’s what makes us human. So go ahead and cry when you feel the need, your family and friends will understand.
Concentrate on Children and the Less Fortunate This Year
The Christmas season focus greatly on children. Youngsters can bring joy by their presence and you may find the inner peace and strength by joining them even if for a limited time. You’ll also discover how amazing it can feel helping others in need at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter for example. Volunteering can give you purpose and lessen your sorrow by keeping you busy.
If You Need Help Grieving, Ask for It
Often, the best way to get through your feelings is to share them. And while family and friends can be a great source of support, sometimes they are simply not available. It’s okay to turn to support groups. Check with your church, local community center, human health agencies, or hospices to find a group that can help ease your sadness.
Simply Opt Out this Season
There’s nothing wrong with that. If you think it will be simply too much to participate, let your family and friends know in advance. Try to have some other activity planned that will give you comfort, and let those who love you know that you’re ‘okay.’