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Grieving during the holidays

If you have lost someone close to you, then a recent article in the Washington Post stated something you already know – we are forever changed by grief. You never completely “move past,” or “get over” your loss. It may be easier to live with, but the thoughts of that individual never leave us.

This reality is a difficult thing to deal with when coupled with our culture in America. We are in such denial of our own mortality that facing the loss of others, reminding us of our own eventualities, makes us uncomfortable. Putting forth a “brave front,” in essence disguising your struggles and the depth of your emotion, is viewed with admiration and appreciation. It is impossible to honestly address your grief in an environment where you are encouraged to stifle it.

sadnessholidaysThe approach of the holidays is arguably one of the most difficult times for those who are grieving. We will anticipate them with dread, knowing that we will be facing memories of special time shared with our loved one. There will be people around us expecting us to be filled with the “holiday spirit,” likely without thought to how we may be feeling. And the pressure from ourselves, not wanting to “ruin” others’ holidays.

In a previous blog, “Not-So-Happy Holidays,” I offered encouragement for grieving individuals to be honest with yourself and others about your feelings, especially at the holidays. As I also discussed in “Comforting the grieving during the holidays,” it can be challenging for friends and loved ones to know how to offer comfort during this difficult time of year. While the articles contained strategic tips to help navigate the holidays, there was a unifying theme: be honest about your feelings. Share them with those who love you. Don’t attempt to hide them, and certainly not from yourself.

I wish you all a very happy, sometimes sad, but always honest Holiday Season.