I’m not sure if it is because emotions are running high, but there seems to be higher incidents of loss during the holiday season. There is research reports that states You have more of a chance of dying during the holidays than at any other time of the year. There are many contributing factors to this phenomenon. However grief is not a limited to physical death. You could experience a loss from a job, relationship, divorce, home etc.
Regardless of the causes, coping with grief during the holidays can be especially difficult. When you have experienced a loss, grief can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to know where to turn. During the holidays, access to care can be limited.
Grief is a highly personalized experience. It does not look the same for everyone and finding what works to cope with grief is unique to the individual as well.
Here are some common symptoms/causes of grief.
Thoughts dominated by loss coupled with poor concentration, tearful spells, and confusion about the future.
Serial losses in life (i.e., deaths, divorces, jobs) that led to depression and discouragement.
Strong emotional response of sadness exhibited when losses are discussed.
Lack of appetite, weight loss, and/or insomnia as well as other depression signs that occurred since the loss.
Feelings of guilt that not enough was done for the lost significant other, or an unreasonable belief of having contributed to the death of the significant other.
Avoidance of talking on anything more than a superficial level about the loss.
Loss of a positive support network due to a geographic move.
When presented with any of these concerns, some goals to cope grief may include:
Begin a healthy grieving process around the loss.
Tell in detail the story of the current loss that is triggering symptoms. This is first step in coping with grief is to acknowledge that the grief exists. You want to find a supportive and safe environment for disclosure and actively build the level of trust. You can try to suppress your grief, but you can’t avoid it forever. In order to heal, you have to acknowledge the pain. Trying to avoid feelings of sadness and loss only prolongs the grieving process. Unresolved grief can also lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems.
Staying physically healthy: It may difficult to participate in physical activity but there is evidence show that maintaining the best diet and physical activity alleviates symptoms. It is also important to uphold a good sleep routine.
Honoring the loss:Write a letter saying the things you never got to say. Write about your loss in a journal. Listing the positive aspects of the person or circumstance. If you’ve lost a loved one; make a scrapbook or photo album celebrating the person’s life; or get involved in a cause or organization that was important to your loved one.
Reengage in activities with family, friends, coworkers, and others
This is the occasion to rely on those who care about you. Instead of isolating and avoiding them, invite them in, spend time with them, and accept the support that’s presented. Sometimes people unsure how to offer to help and are waiting for you to ask or delegate. Whether it’s a listening ear, help with funeral arrangements, or just someone to spend time with. If you don’t feel you have anyone you can regularly connect with in person, it’s never too late to build relationships. This is a great time to reach out to those you may have lost touch with. Join support groups with others who are experiencing similar losses.
Talk to a therapist or grief counselor. If your grief feels overwhelming. An experienced therapist can help you work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to your grieving.
Try to maintain your hobbies and interests. There’s comfort in routine and getting back to the activities that bring you joy and connect you closer to others can help you come to terms with your loss and aid the grieving process.
Expect for grief “triggers.” Birthdays, holidays, and other milestones can rekindle memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster and understand that it’s completely normal.
Time for loss and time for life: set aside a specific time-limited period each day to focus on mourning the loss. After each day’s time is up, you will resume regular activities and postpone grieving thoughts until the next scheduled time.
When you’re grieving, it’s more imperative than ever to take care of yourself. The stress of a major loss can quickly drain your energy and emotional reserves. Looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time.
If you need some support
Find a grief support group
National Suicide Prevention
Available 24 hours everyday
Life after Loss: Dealing with Grief – Guide to coping with grief and loss. (University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center)
Grief: Coping with Reminders after a Loss – Tips for coping with the grief that can resurface even years after you’ve lost a loved one. (Mayo Clinic)
The content of this article is for informational purposes only and NOT a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.