The holidays can be especially difficult for those who have experienced a significant emotional loss. If you are grieving the loss of a loved one this holiday season, there are several ways to cope and reduce feelings of sadness, emptiness and hopelessness.
• Practice Self-Care: Be sure to get enough rest, eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water. Exercise will reduce stress and increase endorphins, brain chemicals that boost your mood and relieve pain. A brisk walk outside is an excellent way to get the exercise that will energize you. Take a long bath, light a scented candle, or listen to your favorite music.
• Surround Yourself with Friends and Family: This is an important time to connect with those who can provide comfort. Spend time with people who will listen, understand and validate. Be honest with your family and friends about your emotions.
• Simplify: Try to shorten your to-do list. Set priorities and eliminate any chores or errands that can wait or someone else can do.
• Create a New Tradition: Many people find meaning in creating a new tradition during the holidays. Old traditions may be unbearable. New traditions often honor those who we have lost. Perhaps you want to cook a meal of your loved one's favorite foods. Making a scrapbook or a memory box can be therapeutic and add something to it every year. Purchase a special tree ornament that reminds you of your loved one and hang it in memory of him or her. Write a poem, have a moment of silence or place a bouquet of flowers on the table - all to remember your loved one in a special way.
• Pay Attention to Your Grief: Take the time to mourn your loss. This looks different for everyone. Many cry, others may not. You may find it helpful to write in a journal or take time daily for reflection or meditation. Feeling joy during the holiday season does not mean that you have forgotten your loved one. Your memories will last forever.
• Give to Others: Helping others during the holidays can provide connection to others and reduce feelings of loneliness. You may want to consider volunteering at a shelter or food bank. Perhaps you would like to donate to a local charity in memory of your loved one. Reaching out to a neighbor or friend and inviting them to a festive meal or gathering can give purpose to a holiday that may otherwise seem meaningless.
• Seek Out a Grief Counselor: Locate a Grief Recovery Specialist® in your community and meet for a consultation. Grief counselors are trained to support you through this difficult time and will guide you through the steps to reconcile your loss. You can recover from the pain associated with the loss, and a trained professional will be there during every step. Visit www.griefrecoverymethod.com to access the directory for grief specialists in your area. You can also purchase The Grief Recovery Handbook on this site and start reading this helpful resource.