Although grief is nearly universal, it expresses itself in many different ways, and sometimes resembles major depression. Frequent crying spells, depressed mood, sleep disturbances, and loss of appetite are common during the bereavement process.
Grief is not a linear process, it ebbs and flows and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Every person — and every family — does it differently. This can cause emotions to collide and overlap, especially during the holiday season when the emphasis is on celebrating and spending time with loved ones.
Here are the strategies that I recommend when working with individuals surrounding the loss of a loved one and the holidays:
Start a new tradition.
During a holiday dinner, place a lighted candle on the dinner table, leave an empty chair, or say a few words of remembrance.
Change the celebration.
Go out to dinner instead of planning an elaborate meal at home. Or schedule a trip with friends.
Express your needs.
People who are grieving may find it hard to participate in all the festivities or may need to let go of unsatisfying traditions. It’s all right to tell people you just aren’t up to it right now or to change plans at the last minute.
Help someone else.
It may also help to volunteer through a charitable or religious organization. Make a donation to a favorite cause in memory of the person who died.
Give yourself time.
The grieving process doesn’t neatly conclude at the six-month or one-year mark. Depending on the strength of the bond that was broken, grief can be life-long. Nevertheless, grief does usually softens and change over time. With time, the holidays will become easier to handle.
If you or someone you know is grieving, whether it be over the loss of a significant relationship or someone has passed away, please reach out for support.
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