Among the joy filled laughter and the excited squeals of the young children is the silent mourner who is dreading this season. The reminder of Christmases past with their loved one at the top of the hearts and memories the holiday season can be a cruel reminder of what was lost all over again. Isolating and turning into a grinch might seem like a good idea and may even have some benefits but I want to encourage you to push through and engage on some level of celebrating with your family and friends this season.
You may not want to put up your tree this year. That is ok! But don’t miss out on the magic of the celebrations of the Christmas season. We need each other. We can mourn our losses together and dwell on favorite memories and stories. Others may bring honor and humor to our memories. This can be very helpful to our pain and suffering. Learning how our lost ones touched other people’s lives keeps their memories alive and gives us a perspective of our lost one that we might not have witnessed when they were alive.
Many kinds of losses can make the holidays difficult including death, separation, divorce, illness, family trauma, job loss or moving to a new location. If you are struggling with the Christmas season, here are 13 tips from Surviving the Holidays that may help you handle the holidays better equipped.
PREPARE. The ambush of emotions can attack at any time; prepare beforehand.
ACCEPT the difficulty of this time of year and your loss. Remind yourself that it’s a season and it will pass.
SOCIALIZE. Don’t hibernate. Insecure feelings may tempt you to isolate but force yourself to go out even if it’s only for a short time.
LOWER your expectations. Movies and songs paint an unrealistic picture of the holidays.
DON’T ANESTHETIZE the pain with drugs or alcohol. Numbing emotional distress with chemicals creates more depression.
TRIMMING. If old ornaments or trimmings cause too much pain, don’t hang them this year. Put them aside for another time.
GET UP AND MOVE. Take care of your physical well-being. Healthy foods will give you strength; fattening and sugar-filled foods can worsen your depression. Exercise produces natural stress reducers.
SHOP online if going to the mall is too stressful.
COPING STRATEGY. Have the phone number of your counselor, pastor, church, close friend or hotline already taped to your phone. Make the commitment to call someone if negative thoughts get fierce.
LIGHT. Get some sunshine. Winter can take its toll on your emotions by the loss of sun you experience.
INVITE a platonic friend to see a movie, have dinner or help decorate the house.
SET BOUNDARIES. Precisely explain to your family and friends what you are capable of doing this year, and what you aren’t. Don’t let others guilt you into taking on more than you can handle.
REACH OTHERS by discovering people who might be alone during the holidays.
If you would like more advice on getting through the holidays, please give me a call. 780-814-1224.
Written by Kimberly Talmey RPC-C
Surviving the Holidays tips by Laura Petherbridge