The loss of a spouse can be especially painful at the holidays, particularly if it’s your first time alone. When dealing with grief, it’s important to be honest with yourself and your family about which activities you want to participate in, and when you prefer to opt out. Taking care of your needs is key.
Dealing with grief during the holidays: navigating the season
It’s important to acknowledge in advance that the holidays most likely won’t be the easiest time. Planning ahead for the possible sudden “ambush” of emotions you might experience can be helpful when dealing with grief. Be gentle with yourself.
- Don’t block your grief. There’s no rule book. Healing takes what it takes. If you are particularly sad one day, that’s perfectly understandable. Swinging between sadness and happiness is part of the process. Decide if you could benefit from speaking with a counselor, pastor, close friend or relative and have their numbers close by. Try to only share your feelings with someone you trust.
- Decide how to honor your lost spouse. Embrace what made past holidays special and use these memories to honor his or her memory. Play special music you enjoyed together. Take a moment before dinner with others to reminisce fond moments. Gather with friends for a special prayer. It can be healing to recall good times and also can give others who share your grief an opportunity to process their feelings.
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- Set boundaries. It may be helpful to commit to something that sounds fun while reminding yourself that you don’t have to stay the entire time. It is also okay to opt-out of certain things altogether. It’s perfectly acceptable to be very clear about what you do, and don’t, want to do. But it’s also important to not “hibernate” when dealing with grief—isolation and loneliness are very harmful to your health. Just give yourself flexibility.
- Create new traditions. Do something different, like going out for dessert, taking a walk in the park, or volunteering to deliver meals to the needy. Next year, you can choose which new traditions to repeat. Stepping outside the box can feel like a breath of fresh air when you are dealing with grief.
- Take care of your health. Watch what you eat. Get up and get some exercise. Be sure you are sleeping well. If you feel yourself getting off-balance, step back and consider what is throwing you off. It might be you are trying to do too much. Let someone else handle the cooking, or the wrapping of presents. Work in some quiet time each day.
- Share your feelings with others. Being around others also dealing with grief also can be quite helpful. Living in a senior living community such as St. Mark Village offers the solace of knowing someone who cares is always close by when you want company. Having the warmth and support of people who understand what you are facing can help you find the way to enjoy the holidays once again.
Helen Keller said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” At St. Mark Village, you will find a community of warm, caring people who can help you navigate through the ups and downs of this phase of life. This is senior living that supports you in every way, including and seamless access to future care options. We invite you to learn more.