Whether you have lost a loved one or you're navigating through a life transition such as becoming an empty-nester, getting separated or divorced, have moved and are away from family, the holidays can bring up a lot of emotion at a time when we are told we should be happy and thankful.
The truth is, the holidays can be so hard, and grief doesn't take a holiday. Challenging family dynamics add in another layer as well. You may be in survival mode or on a healing journey. The holidays can be a reminder of how much life may have changed or what we have lost.
Most humans struggle with change.
I would encourage you to take some time to look inwards and first notice and accept whatever emotions are coming up for you.
Sometimes parts of us jump in to criticize ourselves when we aren't where we expected to be or where we would like to be. We get frustrated with the gap between what I call the knowing what to do and the actually doing it.
I have been working on noticing these behaviours and resistance to change in myself. I then work on letting these feelings pass through and sitting In the messy middle as life is taking shape in a new form these days. I have discovered that taking 5 deep breaths is such a helpful tool in learning how to let the feelings pass and getting grounded in the present.
I am learning that being in the present is such a gift we can give ourselves, even if it’s just for a few moments. Its where we gain calm, peace and a sense of self again, especially when we have been overcome by distressing thoughts and emotions.
A few tips this holiday season...
After a loss, holidays are always hard. Go easy on yourself.
Anyone would be struggling while coping with change and loss.
Don’t take responsibility for other people’s wants - concentrate on your own needs first. If you disappoint people, they’ll get over it.
It might be a hard day, but you have survived hard days. You will survive today.
Change your mind about plans - that’s OK - take breaks, leave early if you need to, and make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
Sometimes guilt is a big part of grief so please remember:
It’s OK to find gratitude and joy in a world with many changes- it’s not a betrayal.
Your grief and your love for the person you've lost will always live alongside your joy.
~ Laura, Clinical Therapist
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