Grief During The Holidays

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Grieving the loss of someone during the holidays is particularly challenging. After all, “tis the season”, and there’s a lot of pressure to feel extra cheerful – when you feel anything but. Traditions that you enjoyed may now become triggers, reminding you of special shared times with the very person you lost. This can be incredibly painful, but there are a few ways to help you navigate your way through all the festivities without spiraling.

  1. Plan ahead. Meaning, you don’t have to celebrate the same way you did when your loved one was alive. Instead, create new traditions, and start planning now – it will put you in a different, more positive mindset. This doesn’t mean you won’t still experience grief, however it should lessen it, if even a little – and every little bit counts.
  2. Allow yourself to be sad, you’ve earned it. Letting the tears roll down your cheeks is an integral part of the healing process.
  3. Spend time with others. While it’s completely natural and healthy to want to mourn by yourself, it’s also just as important to connect with others. Grief is about loss and disconnection – and the antidote is love and connecting with others.
  4. Exercise. When you exercise you release endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. If you’re up for it, go for a jog or take a yoga class. But if you don’t feel like wandering far from home, simply take a nice walk around your house or apartment building – even 15 minutes will do you good (and try to do this at least two to three times a week).
  5. Take an Epsom salt bath, which is known for reducing stress physically and mentally. And if you have access to a float deprivation tank (there are many float spas in most cities), even better; floating is like an Epsom salt bath on mega-steroids. In fact, it is the go-to remedy for many veterans with PTSD.
  6. If you’re going to drink alcohol, be sure to drink in moderation. Imbibing during the holidays is very popular, but alcohol is a depressant, so watch your intake.
  7. Learn to say no. As in, you don’t need to go to every holiday party you’re invited to. People will understand that making small talk is too tall an order when you’re grieving.
  8. Don’t judge yourself. Remember, there’s no time limit to grieving. Often people feel that if it’s been more than a year since they lost their loved one, they are no longer ‘entitled’ to mourn. This is simply not true. People mourn differently – and that’s fine.
  9. Seek out a bereavement group. Sharing your pain with others who are also mourning the loss of a loved one is incredibly healing. Many religious institutions including churches and temples offer bereavement groups. If you prefer something more personal, look into a grief counselor. And if you live in Indian River County, you can contact VNA which offers bereavement services. Call 772-567-5551 for more information.

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The late Fred Rogers, that iconic star of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” television show for children, once said, “Love is at the root of everything. All learning, all parenting, all relationships