I debated whether to post an entry about grief during November. After all, it’s the holidays - the season for joy, festivity and for giving thanks. Who wants to read about grief right now?!
I get it. I’d like to not think about it either. Or feel it. I’d like to eat, drink and be merry with no thought – let alone feeling – of grief. But life doesn’t work that way. Mine doesn’t anyway. Guessing yours doesn’t either.
Grief doesn’t take a break for the holidays. And no amount of saccharine Hallmark movies, drug store holiday décor, retail therapy, or egg nog can make it go away. The more we try, the worse it gets.
There’s an upshot, though. In my years of counseling, coaching and living, I’ve learned that as hard as it is, grief actually makes us feel alive…if we give it space to honor and feel it. To be sure, its gut-wrenching, rock-bottoming, heart-aching, and often feels like death itself, but it also wakes us up. It reminds us what’s important, who matters, and why we’re here.
Grief connects us to being human and to each other. And isn’t that the true spirit of this season?
So if you’re grieving – the death of a loved one, a break up, a health issue, or something from your past - please know you’re not alone. And know the holidays can be an opportunity to let your grief bring you closer to yourself, to what or who you’re missing and to others in a deeper way.
Some practical ways you can honor and process your grief are…
- Show yourself compassion – grief is very, very difficult. Whether you face it head on or try to minimize it, you’re going to struggle. Saying to yourself “this really hurts, and I’m in a lot of pain right now” is compassionate and research shows compassion heals.
- Phone a friend – or family member, loved one, therapist, sponsor – a safe person who is willing to and skilled at listening without needing to fix or hand out empty platitudes.
- Cry – sounds obvious but building an emotional wall to protect us from the full impact of grief is common. That same emotional wall blocks our healing so our grief gets stuck in our bodies and in our heads. Crying helps release the pain from our bodies, clears our heads and creates space for healing, recovery and renewal.
- Tell your story – whether you write it in a journal, share it in a grief support group or casually tell your friend what happened, narrating the story of your grief will help you making meaning of it.
- Rest – Grief drains your energy so I can’t stress enough how important it is to allow your mind, body, heart, and spirit to recover by resting. Whether it’s more sleep than usual, working a bit less, and/or spending more quiet, quality time in nature, you need to take it much easier than usual.
- Allow time to heal – the other side of grief work is no work at all. No work on your part that is. Along with talking about it, feeling your way through it and making meaning of it, allowing time to do its job will aid you in your grief.
As always, I’m here to help if you need more guidance. Some personal growth experts won’t touch – or more likely don’t know how to touch – your grief. As a licensed therapist and certified coach, I can help you navigate grief wherever you are in your journey. Grief doesn’t mean your life has to stop but it may mean you need for help than usual.
Let’s talk about what you need to to not only get through the grief but learn and grow from it.
How is grief showing up for you during the holidays? I’d love to know what you’re going through and hear how you’re feeling. And maybe help you through it.
Yours in grief,