Grief During the Holidays: Give Yourself Grace
The holidays aren’t always the most wonderful time of the year. For those dealing with grief, know that you’re not alone — your Hudson Healing Arts family sees you.
Whether you’re struggling with grief or you want to support someone in your life who is, we are sending you loving energy. This blog is dedicated to ways you can take care of yourself and honor the memory of your loved one during this challenging time.
Honor this transitional stage
Most cultures have built-in traditions to honor those who have passed. Take Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico, a joyful holiday dedicated to celebrating the memory of the deceased. Or consider the tremendous outpouring of grief we witnessed for Queen Elizabeth in the United Kingdom.
As universal as grief is, unfortunately it’s something that our culture doesn’t teach us to sit with. We’re often encouraged to skip the sadness and return to normalcy, which does little to help us heal. Loss and pain are a natural part of life, and it’s perfectly okay if your holiday traditions fall to the wayside in the wake of grief.
Your grief is real because your love is real, and it’s so important to give yourself the time, space, and permission to honor it. There is no timeline and there is nothing you “have” to do, besides feel your feelings and listen to what’s there.
Recognize that everyone grieves differently
Grief can manifest as irritability, impatience, silence, anger, or weepiness…sometimes all at once! While we all grieve differently, we are all hurting. If you are the one grieving, give yourself grace. If you’re dealing with someone grieving, lead with compassion and cut them slack.
Recognize that grief is far from linear: It comes in waves, and the holidays tend to be a tsunami. It’s all a process, and calling on the attribute of grace is more important than ever during this time.
Find ways to keep their memory alive
“When someone dies, our relationship with them doesn’t end — it changes.”
So many of us try to survive the holiday grief through avoidance. However, this often makes us feel even more isolated, and finding ways to honor your loved one’s memory during the festivities can be an incredible source of comfort. Here are just a few ways to keep their memory alive.
Take care of yourself
When you’re in the trenches of grief, it’s easy for self-care to fly out the window. The irony, of course, is that this is the time that you need it the most.
At HHA, we offer holistic healing in many forms, and encourage you to find what brings a sense of comfort, whether that’s Reiki, counseling, acupuncture, or something else. Bach Flower remedies provide a gentle form of consolation in times of grief, and can be taken daily. Star of Bethlehem (the remedy for loss, grief, or shock) can be particularly helpful, but there are also other remedies for the complicated mix of emotions you may be feeling, from guilt to regret to apathy.
Another way to take care of yourself during the holidays is to stay off social media, which can lead us to spiral into loneliness and make comparisons. Some days, simply washing your face might be an accomplishment — and that’s okay. Celebrate each small win of self-care as you take this time to grieve and heal.
Do good in their memory
As cliche as it sounds, lifting someone else up is often the best way to soothe your own pain. Maybe that means donating or volunteering to a cause your loved one was passionate about, or planting a tree or flower in their memory. Perhaps you invite over a neighbor who might be lonely during the holidays, or pay for the person behind you in line.
While grief can make us feel isolated, the truth is that it’s the one thing that connects us all. Just one positive action can help you remember that a broken heart is still an open heart, and that our grief is a true indicator of our ability to love deeply
We sincerely hope this blog helps you to be gentle with yourself during the holidays and every season of grief. Remember, you are never alone in your pain. Your HHA family is sending you warmth, healing, and strength!
Hannah Chenoweth is a Hoboken-based conference producer and freelance writer who enjoys covering all aspects of health and wellness.