The holidays bring special celebrations, fun activities and meaningful traditions. But amidst all of the excitement and joy, many are struggling and dealing with grief during the holiday season. Although it’s not the most fun topic to discuss, it’s a very important one. Loss, pain and suffering can rear it’s ugly head at any time and can be particularly harsh this time of year. My husband and I have experienced quite the gambit of emotions as we set out to have a family of our own. Through these challenges and struggles, we became acutely aware of our loss and pain that seems to intensify during holiday celebrations. Through our continued path with grief, we have discovered a few thoughts and tools to help walk the road before us.
Loss Cannot Be Compared
Loss is loss and cannot and should not be compared. As unique as each of us are, our struggles and pain are also unique to our own circumstances and life path. Empathy and acceptance toward those walking through their grief is always a good approach.
There are so many parties, festive events and joyous occasions this time of year. And frankly, many of us just don’t feel like celebrating. And that’s ok. In navigating grief, there is no formula or precise plan to get to the other side. That being said, it’s important to do what you need to do during this time. Be gentle with yourself, accept your needs and do what supports your healing process.
Lean on Others
Although we were hesitant to go, my husband and I found immense support through group therapy. Pregnancy and infant loss group was never a club we wanted to be part of, but when we found ourselves in that position, we were met with comfort and hope surrounded by those who also knew similar pain. Around the holidays, many groups, like hospitals, Hospice and religious organizations hold special events and meetings to provide extra support and resources during this time.
Honor and Acknowledge
Celebrating the holidays was particularly challenging in the early years after our losses. It was hard to find joy and happiness while we still felt the searing pain of loss. We learned from others that we can still honor those we missed dearly by being intentional through the holidays. Finding something meaningful to us to incorporate into our holiday tradition could allow us to embrace the season, yet still remember. Some ideas include adding special decorations like a new ornament or garland, using a sticker, stamp or punch on holiday cards, or lighting a candle daily on the mantle. This gave us the freedom to move through the holiday season, but also a way to honor our grief.
You never know what someone else is going through
Grief, pain, suffering, loss-unfortunately are unavoidable in this life. The holidays bring celebration and fun, yet also can be reminders of what is missing and intensify sadness. Having empathy for others is always a good way to live, but especially during this festive season. We never know what someone else is going through. Showing love, kindness and acceptance can make a world of difference to those hurting.