En español | Grieving the loss of a loved one is a deep and difficult challenge at any time. But the holiday season can magnify your sense of loss and mourning. Family gatherings and seasonal events can be painful reminders of the absence of a loved one. At the same time, they can also be comforting rituals where you spend time with family and friends, focusing on good memories and trying to recapture your sense of joy. If you are mourning a loss of a loved one this year, here are some important things to keep in mind.
1. Only do what feels right. It's up to you to decide which activities, traditions or events you can handle. Don't feel obligated to participate in anything that doesn't feel doable. Grieving takes time. You are very vulnerable right now, so all you need to do is get through the day or week or season — in a healthy way. Try not to think much beyond that.
2. Accept your feelings — whatever they might be. Everyone takes his or her own path in grief and mourning. Some may try to avoid sad feelings; others will be bathed in tears. Some feel bad that they aren't up for enjoying a holiday; others feel guilt because they are feeling joy. However you feel, accept it. And accept the inevitable ups and downs: You may feel peaceful one moment and gut-wrenchingly sad the next. Try to stay in tune with your own highest truth and you will know how to get through the holiday without judging yourself or others.
3. Call on your family and friends. Talk with loved ones about your emotions. Be honest about how you'd like to do things this year — if you want to talk about those who have passed, then do so, and let others know it's OK. Take a buddy to events for support and create an "escape plan" together in case you need to bow out quickly. Read books about getting through the holidays after loss, and seek out support groups, lectures or faith-community events. Seek professional support from a therapist. Stay in touch with others who are grieving via online groups and connections with friends.
4. Focus on the kids. Many holidays place special attention on children, and it often helps to focus on their needs. Realize that your choices around getting through the holidays may affect the children in your family. If you withdraw, they may not understand why you don't want to join family festivities. Perhaps you can participate in the family rituals or gatherings that are most important to the kids, and excuse yourself when you reach your limit.