The first holiday while grieving for a loved one is always the most difficult. Remember that grief doesn't start after death, but rather when you start to accept death as a looming inevitability. Understanding these key details about grief will help you cope with it through a difficult holiday season.
If you, or a loved one, are dealing with grief this holiday season, the following tips can help you make it through.
The reason that it's important to understand the difficulty of coping with grief is that it will help you set realistic expectations for yourself. You may not be able to handle all of your typical holiday responsibilities. Between cooking, shopping, traveling and other annual holiday responsibilities, it's a stressful time for everyone. When you're also coping with grief, and potentialy providing care to an ailing loved one, there's not enough time to get everything done. Don't be ashamed to ask for help, and take others up on their offers. Think about upcoming events and decide if you want to attend them, or if alternate plans should be made.
Let loved ones help
Whether they're there to help, or just there to provide comfort and fellowship, it's important to surround yourself with family and friends. These are the people that both care about you, and understand the grief you're currently experiencing. If you need to change your typicaly holiday plans, talk to your loved ones so they can still spend time with you. Don't cancel plans and try to spend too much time alone. Also, don't be afraid to share memories about the individual who is sick or recently passed away. These memories can often be a source of comfort.
Let yourself be emotional
Especially when you're spending time around family that may also be grieving during the holidays, it's common to try to stifle your natural emotions and grieve the same way others are. No one grieves the same way, however. Your needs will be different than even those in your own family. While some will feel sadness, or even anger during the grieving process, others will want to share memories, laugh and feel joy. Neither of these methods are wrong. Neither mean you've forgotten or dishonored the recently deceased. Let yourself grieve your own way, and let others grieve their own way.
Don't forget self care
If your grieving process includes prolonged periods of sadness, it can also lead to an abandonment of self care. Proper hygiene can be forgotten for days at a time, and you may become more sedentary. Physical exercise can often be an anti-depressant, and sometimes getting out of the house just to run an errand can make you feel better too. Be aware of how you're feeling, however, and avoid crowded places or a hectic schedule when you start to feel overwhelmed. Avoid self-medicating with alcohol, food, or other substances. Overall, simply be aware of your own well-being and do what is best for you.
The holidays can be difficult when you're grieving, but when you have a plan and a support group of loved ones to help you, you can enjoy them.
At Cura-HPC, we know about grief and provide bereavement support to families of our patients for 13 months following death. If you or a loved one are in need of hospice care, contact us at 800-797-3839.