Happy Holidays–For Some!

This Christmas season are you feeling jolly, enjoying family/friends by sharing meals and presents?  I experienced many years ago the loss of a loved one–my fiancé  died on Christmas Eve. That year and for several to come, my Christmas was clouded by anniversary grief.  Like many people, I tried to put on a “happy face” and be brave for my family, but when I was alone it was hard to really enjoy one of my usually joyful seasons.  I tried to focus on the reason for the season and did go to church, which gave me some comfort, but at times I found myself feeling sad or even angry that my beloved big red-bearded bear of a man was no longer with me. Some of the ways I dealt with my own loss, and I hope will be helpful to you are:

Surviving a Loss or the Anniversary of One during a Usually Joyful Season:

1.  Be kind to yourself.  Even if this is an anniversary of a loss, and you feel you have worked through all the stages of grief, you may experience grief pangs on holidays, especially if the person died (or left you) around that time.

2.  Be open and let your family know that if you should become suddenly tearful for no apparent reason it isn’t because of something they did.

3.  Make sure to take time to rest.  Holidays are stressful themselves even without the added pressure you may be feeling.

4.  Allow yourself to feel your feelings.  If you stuff them it could lead to depression.

5.  If needed, reach out to a counselor who is trained to deal with grief issues.  There are also GriefShare Groups nationwide you might wish to explore for support.

Holidays that are usually joyful, may be stressful and even sad when you are dealing with a loss or anniversary of one.  Please don’t put too high expectations on yourself.  As healthcare professionals we notice catching “colds” are more common both in the winter and when we are under stress, so hopefully these suggestions can give you some comfort and help you stay well over this holiday.

Allow yourself to experience your true feelings when dealing with loss over the holidays and let yourself off the hook instead of trying to put on a happy façade.

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