Going through a loss and dealing with grief is never easy. When the holidays come around, it is common that those feelings may intensify. We also may not know how to deal with them when they come up.
This past year I lost someone who was very important to me, and as I head into family gatherings knowing that this person won’t be there, I want to approach hard situations in realistic ways. Although I may no longer be in a season of mourning, I often experience moments of grief. In this post I want to uncover some strategies to handle grieving during the holidays.
The holidays have this idea of “togetherness” attached to them, and it can be difficult when the person you want to be together with is no longer here. It is essential to create realistic boundaries. Continuing certain traditions so that you can celebrate their life is a way to experience change while still remembering that person. I was told that it is up to me to choose if I want to make the holidays a celebration or a dismal memory. On the other hand, it’s completely okay to say "no."
Dr. Tali Berliner clinical psychologist said, “I recall being conflicted as there were times when I wanted to participate in the excitement, but simultaneously didn’t want to participate at all or felt guilty for celebrating.” This is a normal experience, so recognize that sometimes it can be confusing to say “yes” or “no” to certain activities.
Grief deserves dedicated time. There can be time for both celebration and grief.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Ecclesiastes 3:1&4
Grief specialist David Kessler says, “What we avoid pursues us. What we face transforms us.” This quote shows us that it is okay to give yourself what you individually need. Avoiding grief can lead to deep rooted pain later, but avoiding change can also cause hurt. We must find a balance that works for us between engaging in activities during the holidays and not pushing ourselves too far.
Feeling your Emotions
Feeling your emotions does not make you a grinch or a scrooge, it makes you human. It can truly be a challenge when you are feeling pain and those around you may be experiencing holiday cheer.
People know me as a very “emotional” person. I always thought this had a negative connotation attached to it, but last summer I was told how it's okay to tune into your emotions rather than avoiding them. I wear my emotions on my sleeve, and I hope others can learn something from that.
Grief can leave you feeling all sorts of ways from sad, to angry, to confused. These are all completely normal. As humans we tend to think our emotions and experiences are very unique and that “no one else will understand.” Yes, this is true to an extent, but it is important to remember that we are not alone. Although we may experience grief differently and sometimes that pain can be more intense than others, we also must acknowledge that others are also hurting alongside us.
It may be good to recognize ahead of time that tough emotions may be present in the holiday season. We can prepare for grief without numbing ourselves to it. Awareness is crucial. You know your feelings better than anyone else does. There is no “right” or “wrong” way of approaching the loss of a loved one during the holiday season.
Finding Comfort in Jesus
In times of grief, there is only so much earthly advice that can help. I encourage you to look toward the Lord for joy, peace, and guidance. I want to leave you with some applicable Bible verses so that you can find true and everlasting comfort this holiday season.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
"When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you shall not drown. When you walk through fire you shall not be burned and the flame shall not consume you."
"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Although I would typically wish you a Merry Christmas, I realize that it may be not seem "merry" this year. With that being said, I pray that the Lord guides you in the loss that you've expirienced and comforts the sadness in your heart.
Remember that it is important to create boundaries and feel your emotions, but above all remember to turn to Jesus in both joy and mourning this holiday season
Thanks for reading!