When the Holidays Mean Pain: Grieving During the Holiday Season
The holidays are right around the corner. How could we miss the reminders? Inserts of coupons for Halloween candy filling the Sunday newspaper. Noticeably increasing numbers of television commercials showing families gathered around tables laden with roasted turkeys, yams and cranberries. Christmas jingles piped over the sound system at the supermarket (in October).
For some people, this time of year brings a sense of lovely anticipation: of gifts and togetherness, delicious feasts and cheer. But what about those of us who have lost a loved one? How do we get through the season intact when reminders of family traditions surround us?
While these holiday cues may trigger anxiety when we’re struggling with a loss, we can use them to our advantage. They are a good indicator that it’s time to put some thought into how we want to approach the season and gives us a chance to mindfully put a plan in place.
Here are some ways to mentally and emotionally prepare for the holidays:
Be mindful of your mood during the holiday season. Your emotions are a powerful tool that helps guide you and tells you when you’ve overextended yourself or pushed past your personal boundaries. Remember to touch base with your feelings, validate them, and communicate them to others. This is an important part of self-care.
Some questions to consider:
How do you care for yourself during the holidays?
What triggers can you identify in advance that might be challenging during the holidays?
Who can you turn to for support, and who might be difficult to be around?
Marnee Reiley is a Marriage and Family Therapist Registered Intern in Irvine, CA. Certified in Grief and Bereavement Counseling, Marnee is honored to work with couples, individuals, and families with adjustment to life transitions, communication, and healthy adaptation to loss and change. Please visit her website at www.YourOCTherapist.com to learn more.