The Holidays are Stressful – Some Coping Ideas

Posted by: on December 27, 2010

The holidays are stressful: There are presents to be purchased, crowded stores, extra traffic, financial burdens and social obligations. While experiencing the death of a loved one, this seasonal stress can be greatly magnified.

Death brings about many changes that will affect the holidays. Perhaps your loved one always carved the turkey or was the voice of cheer at your celebrations. You will find that patterns and rituals will be different this holiday season. There will be an empty chair at the table. Holiday cards may not have their usual cheery message, and how do you sign them?  Even if people think they have been “doing well” with the death, the holidays can reactivate their grief as they are forced to acknowledge the extent of their loss.

Here are some ideas that can help reduce the stress and ease some of the emotional pain this season may bring.

1.     Slow down – you don’t have to go to every celebration, office party or family event. You definitely do not have to accomplish every single item that is normally on your holiday “to do” list. Do only what is special and meaningful to you.

2.    Find someone safe to talk to – you need safe people who will listen and hear during this time. Choose supportive people to be around.

3.   Tell the truth about your feelings – Its okay to express how you feel. When asked how you are doing, put it into words, “I’m feeling lonely right now” “I don’t feel like talking” “Today is a hard day for me” Its okay not to be okay.

4.    Take care of yourself physically – drink plenty of water, get sleep and make healthy choices. It is important to keep your strength while grieving.

5.    Lean on your faith – remember to touch base with your source of spirituality. It will bring you comfort and support during this time. Talk to others in your place of worship, ask them to keep you in their prayers. Being with a group of people who believe as you do can be very supportive.

6.     Remember to remember– Acknowledge the person who died. Write them a card, get them a gift, light a candle, honor the relationship in your own special way.

7.   Learn to say No! – Some people struggle with saying “No, I’m sorry, I just can do the party” or dinner or whatever, “this year.” If people are not listening when you say “no” be honest with them. See #3. 

8.   Pamper yourself – Take extra time for you. If you deplete your energy you will have less strenght to handle the days ahead. Take a bath, take a nap, go for a long walk. Just take time for you!

…and remember, The only way to take grief out of death is to take love out of life – Shelle

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