Throughout November and December, I’ll be offering encouraging tips on how to get through the holidays during times of grief.
After going through the grief experiences of my sister’s sudden death on Thanksgiving, my grandmother and boyfriend dying on Christmas break, and my other sister’s fiancé passing away on Easter, the holidays became a painful and challenging time. As I share what my family and I learned through the process of creating special, enjoyable, and meaningful holidays again, in spite of grief, I hope all will be encouraged!
My first holiday tip is:
Grieve how you need to grieve and be kind to yourself. Do not put on yourself the extra pressure to have the “perfect” holidays.
Just like you are having to create a “new normal” in day-to-day life, you may need to create a “new holiday normal,” or the freedom to do holidays differently for a season as well.
When going through grief, holidays can seem to lose their previous joy, sparkle and specialness.
- Suddenly, the tree that used to shine bright holding treasured ornaments and memories can now bring about intense sadness
- Baking treats and making favorite dishes you used to bake or make for a loved one who is no longer here can now bring about incredible heartache
- Old familiar traditions can now bring intense pain…even anxiety
- Certain Christmas songs can be tied to a special memory or remind you of a loved one, and can bring sudden tears
- And seeing happy couples and cheerful families—on social media or in real life—can bring about feelings of depression, hopelessness, or maybe even envy
It is very painful navigating through the holidays when going through the loss of a loved one, a divorce, miscarriage, financial loss, family/marital/stepfamily conflict, illness, family rebellion or estrangement, or other painful losses.
…And it can be extra painful and burdensome when family and friends do not understand or agree with how you are handling your grief.
Explain to family and friends that the holidays are going to be tough on you and lovingly ask them for their help, support, and compassion.
Some grievers may be able to do all of their usual holiday traditions, while others may not. BOTH are perfectly fine!
Pray about and consider what you need to do, or not do, this holiday season and come to a place of peace about it.
It doesn’t mean it will always be like this…just because you choose something this year doesn’t mean it will be cemented or always be like this…it simply means you are doing what you need to do THIS holiday season to make it through.
Communication is key! Talk about it with your loved ones, so as to avoid hurt feelings or conflict. Some compromise may also be needed. Just like there is no such thing as “cookie cutter” grief, not every griever or family will handle the holidays the exact same way either. Each must communicate and find what’s best for their own individual family. It may include fully celebrating holidays as usual…or changing things up just a little or beginning some new traditions…or completely changing everything this year…or going out of town, on a vacation, or to visit family who live out of town, for a change of scenery. There are many ways to create a special, meaningful holiday during a time of grief.
If you have family and friends who love you, support you, and encourage you, what an amazing gift that truly is! Be sure to thank them for any way they bring encouragement, meaning, and love to your life!
I am praying for all of you to have a meaningful holiday season, and truly hope you are surrounded by understanding and caring family & friends who will encourage you this month and next.
It can take time to find a new holiday normal, so please don’t be hard on yourself. It takes time to work out a broken heart and to pick up the pieces of a shattered life.
The first few years are the absolute hardest, but through genuinely working out your grief, holidays can hold great joy again…in time!
Gratitude & blessings,
©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.
For more encouragement~
Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com
Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief
Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (book) has a chapter dedicated to grief & holidays: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/mobile/w/getting-your-breath-back-after-life-knocks-it-out-of-you-kbh-niles/1112403330?ean=9781449725617
FREE YouVersion reading plans:
1. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships
2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: http://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays