2020 has served as a reminder to us all to tell the people we love that we love them, while we still can. Over the course of this year, it seemed as if each week we were faced with a new tragedy: the deadly fires on the west coast; the police-involved killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery; and the protests demanding an end to racial injustice that sometimes turned violent. This year has brought about some of the most traumatic events the world has ever seen. In addition, we were introduced to COVID-19, the deadly virus that claimed millions of lives and counting. The tragic deaths of legendary basketball star Kobe Bryant, civil rights leader, John Lewis, and one literal superhero, Chadwick Boseman, reminds us that even some of the greatest here on earth are not invincible.
We have all experienced some kind of loss. Whether that be a loved one, a job, or even our sense of self, it feels like something has been taken away from all of us, leaving us completely empty and unsure of where to turn next. The traumatic events we have experienced over the past few months are more than enough to heighten stress levels, frustration and grief, specifically during the holidays.
Holidays have the power to remind us of our favorite memories, while also leaving us to grieve the moments we can never get back with people we love. Music, parties, presents, food, and even movies often bring happiness, but for those who are grieving they can trigger immense sadness. Grief is universal. We have all experienced some kind of loss, and while it is different for everyone, it can be quite the roller coaster ride. Emotions can change quickly and sporadically, but it’s important to give yourself grace always.
It is important now more than ever, to be gentle with yourself. Grief is nothing that you can prepare for; you can only be aware that it will occur. Here are 5 tips on how to deal with grief during the holidays.
Set boundaries with holiday events. Don’t feel as if you need to attend every holiday party or family gathering. Remember it is okay to say no, or even leave early. Nothing is required of you.
Allow space and time to process your emotions. Even if everyone around you seems to be in the holiday spirit, remind yourself that it’s okay not to be okay.
Identify grief coping skills. Whether that is exercising, journaling, talking with your therapist, bubble baths, or even a day of Netflix binge-watching, identify your forms of self-care and act on them.
Lean on your support system. Don’t feel that you have to grieve alone. Those who love and support you, will never hesitate to be a helping hand or listening ear.
Remember that making new memories does not erase old ones.
It is hard to say whether or not dealing with a loss gets easier or we just learn to adjust to our new circumstances. What’s important is that we remember that during this holiday season, we shouldn’t forget to give ourselves time and space to heal.
“Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can learn to do is learn to swim.” –Vicki Harrison
By Bianca L.