Grieving Through The Holidays By Brittany Webb, LMFT
posted: Dec. 23, 2020.
Grieving Through the Holidays
Death is a part of life. It has been termed “the great equalizer” for a reason. It is an inevitability that at some point in our lives, we will experience death and loss. It seems that we dread the action of it, the moment of death, but in reality people struggle with the moments after the most. As we move through this holiday season, it can be hard to reconcile with the holes that death leaves in our lives. An empty seat at the table, a stocking turned relic, a box of memories survived by one less person. It is difficult to experience the moment when it is so clearly missing someone. You may feel a deluge of emotions, seemingly all at once or nothing at all. Moments of sorrow, anger, and fear give way to numbness or even a sense of relief that the anticipation is over. These moments of feeling may come in bursts, seemingly randomly, and it can feel as if you are going insane. Grief isn’t logical. Death is something we deny, something that lurks in the back, and grief brings that taboo front and center. It can feel like you’ve taken the red pill, while everyone else has chosen to remain blissfully unaware. Now adding the expectations and traditions placed on holidays, and you have the perfect recipe for yelling at your friends and family. So how do we plan for this?
There is no one size fits all in the approach to the holidays. It is important that you allow yourself to do what makes sense for you, instead of what you feel is expected. First, let’s consider what the holidays look like for your family. What traditions are there and what do you want to do this year? Would having celebrating as usual be a welcome distraction and empowering for you, or would it be a drain and painful? Tinsel, presents, and streamers do not make the holiday, unless you place that meaning on it for yourself. What activities can you give yourself permission to skip or abstain from? Is it better to get take out for dinner, and take the time to reflect, or is it better to find comfort in these old traditions? You can choose to continue to follow these traditions in the name of the person who died, or you can choose to have some respite for yourself.
What traditions would you like add or create this year? Is it setting a mourning candle, donating in the name of the person who died, or adding them to the holiday in a way that makes sense for your family? The answers lie within you. You know what you need, and sometimes you just need the push to take it. Give yourself permission to be human and really consider what you need.