How Can I Heal? Dealing with Grief During the Holidays

When it seems like everyone around you is over the moon excited to celebrate the holidays, that can be hard for those of us that experience the timely feelings of absence, sadness and sometimes bouts of depression. Navigating the holidays without your loved ones being present is a moment that is hard to describe but very easy to feel.

Your memories of them may come midday when you are minding your business, until a faint scent or quick moment triggers them in your mind. It could happen when you are browsing the aisles for your favorite tea or when you are at home alone, wishing that this was just a bad dream.

I get it, and I have felt it several times over.

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However, healing does not happen over night and honestly, it is not a one and done thing. Understanding how to heal throughout the years comes with a lot of reflection, positive affirmations, tears and sometimes cries that have you asking, “why them?”

While there is no clear answer it can be difficult to manage during the holidays, especially when you are craving their presence. If this is you or if you know someone who is dealing with this on a yearly basis, there are a few ways to help.

If you are battling personally, write out your thoughts. It can be a task at first, but try your hand at it. To make it more personal, write a letter to them telling them how you feel internally. Once, in a therapy session, my therapist charged me with this task but over the course of a month, meaning one update per week. I felt a little bit lighter, not “fixed” but I did gain a sense of relief behind my pain.

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I want to remind you that it is okay to grieve and it is okay to grieve in your own way but do so in one that benefits you in a healthy manner.

Another healthy tip that I have learned is to take your time on this journey to heal. You are not obligated to throw on a smile for the sake of family and friends. Yes, it is important to be mindful of your energy, but it is also important to be authentic with yourself before you try to make others feel comfortable.

The biggest tip of all that I have learned is to keep their memory alive and well. Keep up traditions that you know they would have enjoyed and slowly begin to take their pictures out again. Yes, it’s hard and everyone won’t understand, but you can do this.

At the end of the day, show up for yourself before you show up for anyone else. Basically, take time for you and you only, you know like Lilo.

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Now, to our support system and those who many not fully grasp the motions that we are going through, we simply ask that you are patient with us. A lot of times, those of us who experience this give ourselves away to others so much so that we do not know how to cope alone.

There is nothing that you as a support system can say or do to immediately make us feel better, so please allow us to move through our feelings. We may grow silent, get tired, cry...a lot and even express to you how hard it is, but do not think that you can fix this.

The truth is, we are not broken and we do not require “fixing”, if anything we require listening ears, plenty of hugs and time to get back to ourselves.

So, to those people who have lost a mother, father, grandparent, sibling or any love in between, you are not alone. Your love lives on and over time you will learn how to live again too.