How Will I Get Through the Holidays?

For many people the holidays are a stressful time. For those who have lost a loved one, the holidays can be especially difficult. Here are some tips from James E. Miller that might be helpful during this time of year.

1. Accept the likelihood of your pain.
• Chances are it will be a painful time.
• Your pain is a sign that you have been blessed to have close relationships.
• There will be difficult moments, but the holidays don’t have to be
• Sometimes the anticipation is worse than the actual experience.

2. Feel whatever it is you feel.
• You will have emotional reactions to the impact of the holidays.
• You are human.
• No one else will feel exactly the way you do, when you do, with the same

3. Some feelings you may experience:
Depression. Fear. Anger. Guilt. Apathy.

4. Express your emotions.
• You must find a release for what is going on inside of you.
• Express yourself in a way that works for you. Possibilities are limitless.
Cry. Talk. Journal. Listen to music.

5. Plan ahead.
• Identify what will be the more difficult parts of the holidays.
• Ask for help in thinking about what you will do and carrying out tasks.
• Give thought to the various choices you have in spending the holidays.
• Divide your tasks into smaller, more manageable units
• Give yourself the freedom to change your plans.

6. Take charge where you can.
• Identify what aspects of the holidays are meaningful to you and which ones you can forego.
• Decide if there are traditions that can be modified to fit the new circumstances of the loss.
• Try not to make drastic changes, but some changes can be healthy and important.
• Eat healthfully and drink wisely, maintain an exercise program, get some sleep, and practice those things that give you energy.

7.Turn to others for support.
• You may have to let people know how they can help, be straightforward about what you think will help and what will not
• Seek out those who will let you talk or cry or do whatever you need to do.
• Contact local bereavement support programs for counseling or join a grief

8. Be gentle with yourself.
• Give yourself time to rest and be forgiving of yourself.
• Don’t over commit yourself and allow yourself to cancel plans if you need to.
• Give yourself permission to ease holiday demands and set easy-to-attain goals.

9. Remember to remember.
• Find an object that you can carry, wear, use, or place in easy sight that will link you with the one who died.
• Create a small remembrance area in your home.
• Honor your loved one with a ritual of remembrance.
• Don’t force yourself to remember if you don’t feel up to it – you’ll know when the time is right.

10.Search out and count your blessings.
• Remain as open as you can to what you appreciate.
• Stay present in the moment and accept the warmth that is yours to receive,
however fleeting.

11. Do something for others.
• Find moments to place your attention outside of yourself.
• It can be something that takes an hour or days – see what is right for you.
• Volunteer, help a neighbor, or assist a stranger. The possibilities are limitless.

12.Give voice to your”soul”.
• An inner part of yourself is involved in the grief, separate from your body, mind, or feelings.
• Honor the questions that you may find yourself asking that affect your spiritual beliefs.
• Consider making room in your days for the expression of your soul (prayer, meditation, reading, etc.).

13. Harbor hope.
• Stay open to the demands of this experience. There is hope for your healing and growth.

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