By Caroline Sharkey, MSW Intern | Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support
For people experiencing grief, the holidays can be an especially difficult time. While temporary, the surge of grief and memories can feel like a tailspin. We are reminded of all that has been lost and how different these times of year are as a result. The first step to coping with grief during the holidays is recognizing that the resurgence of grief is a normal part of the healing process and that being prepared can help to lessen the intensity.
Loss changes everything, but with support, being patient with yourself, and a few strategies, the holidays can be a time of expression and growth.
Be kind to yourself
Grief can feel like a roller coaster and emotional set-backs are normal. By realizing that you can only do what you are able to realistically and comfortably manage allows for the expression of feelings.
Having an outlet for your feelings such as journaling, increased exercise, time alone, or time with friends and family can help to process the pangs of grief.
Ask for help
Ask for what you need. While it may feel necessary to carry on a favorite tradition in memory of the deceased, if doing so feels too hard it’s okay to do something different. Too often those around us want to celebrate the holidays as usual and hearing how best they can help and how hard this time of year is for you provides them with insight as to how they can be supportive. Ask for help, delegate and create the boundaries that help you to get through.
For some, carrying on with beloved traditions is a great source of comfort, while it can be unbearable for others. Consider creating new traditions, even those that may be temporary. This might be a good year to spend the holidays “paying it forward” and assisting at an area agency helping those in need or surrounding yourself with family and friends.
Whatever you decide, do what you can to create the support for yourself that helps you to get through. There is no one way to celebrate the holidays any more than there is one way to grieve. No matter what, remember that this is all a part of the process of moving forward.
More to Help You
Our Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support provides information, education and emotional and spiritual support to cancer patients and their families in north Georgia. It serves as a resource for patients before, during and after cancer treatment through support groups, individual and family counseling and an educational resource library.
To speak to someone at the center, call 706-475-4900.