(This was originally published on this blog (Grief Bites) a few years ago. I’m just reposting it since it’s the holidays)
Throughout the Christmas season, I’ll be offering encouraging tips on how to get through the holidays during times of grief.
After going through multiple family deaths on or around holidays, the holidays became a very painful and challenging time. As I share what my family and I have learned through the process of creating special, enjoyable, and meaningful holidays again – in spite of grief – I hope all who read these helpful tips will be encouraged and comforted!
Grief can definitely make the holidays very challenging to get through…but there truly is hope.
I wish each of you a peaceful Christmas season that is filled with hope, comfort, encouragement, and even joy!
My first holiday tip is:
Grieve how you need to grieve and be kind to yourself. Do not put on yourself the extra pressure of having 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. Creating new normals doesn’t make anything (or return anything back to) normal. I like to think of and compare “creating new normals” to an inflated inter tube…it doesn’t make anything immediately better, but it will keep a griever from completely drowning.
When going through grief, holidays can 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 or depressed feelings
• 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, adultery or divorce, miscarriage/infertility, financial or job loss, family/marital/stepfamily conflict, physical or mental illness of a loved one, addiction issues, 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 forever)…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, to avoid hurt feelings or conflict. Some compromise may also be needed when choosing what to do (and not do) during the holidays. Ideally, it is best to come to decisions where your grief is genuinely honored while also factoring in honoring your time with remaining loved ones. 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 times 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 everyone who is going through a sad or tough time to have a meaningful holiday season – and I truly hope everyone is surrounded by understanding and caring family and friends who will encourage you this month.
It can take time to find a new holiday normal, so please don’t be hard on yourself. It takes time, effort, and grace 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 remembering and honoring your treasured deceased loved ones, honoring your grief situation, showing love to your remaining loved ones, and working through your grief, holidays can hold great joy again…in time!
Gratitude & blessings,
©2015 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.
🎄❤️If you were encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it to encourage others! 🎄For more encouragement: ❤️ Making peace with God: http://peacewithgod.net ❤️ Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): softcover and hardcopy – http://www.barnesandnoble.com or for $3.19 eBook – https://www.christianbook.com
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief
🎄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: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays