5 Ways to Cope with Bereavement During the Holidays

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My mind goes back to December of 2010. It was cold outside, and Christmas was definitely in the air. I was on my way to a pizza party that I was throwing for the youth choir at my church (at the time), and I got a phone call. Long story short, my grandma (who raised me and was literally my best friend) had passed away… ten before Christmas. You already know how it goes. I was devastated, and it basically cancelled Christmas for me. Every time I heard Christmas music, I cried. EVERYTHING brought back memories of her. It was terrible. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to endure… but I endured it. I made it through.

If you’re reading this, you are more than likely experiencing the first holiday without someone you hold dear to you heart. Maybe it’s not your first one. Maybe it’s your second. Or third. Or twentieth. Regardless of the number, please know that my heart, thoughts and prayers are definitely with you. At the end of this blog, I’m gonna post some additional resources that will help you through your grief process. The process is different for everybody, so don’t ever feel bad if your grief doesn’t line up exactly with any of the resources you read. It doesn’t have to. You are an individual having an individual experience. That’s perfectly okay.

Now, on to the business. I want to share with you a few things that will help make things easier for you during the holiday season. If you have additional coping methods to share, please feel free to do so in the comments.

Number One: Realize that it’s okay to feel what you’re feeling.

We are often made to believe that “negative” emotions are “bad”. Showing any type of remorse or sorrow or general sadness is often looked at as a “weakness” or something that we should not possess. Please allow me to dispel that myth and hammer some truth on top of that lie. It is perfectly okay to miss your loved one. It is perfectly okay to be sad about the fact that your loved one is no longer here in the physical realm. It is perfectly okay to not feel your best. It’s okay. Those feelings are natural. Should you drown in them? No. Should you use them as an excuse to treat people badly or make people pay for how you’re feeling? Absolutely not. However, it is perfectly okay to have feelings of loss, sorrow, sadness, etc. You’re a human being with a heart full of love. Don’t beat yourself up about how you feel. Of course your loved one who has gone on would want you to be happy, but I also believe that your loved one would also be understanding of the fact that grief is truly a process. I can’t imagine leaving this physical plane and NO ONE missing me. That would be terrible. It’s good to have lived a life that causes people to miss you when you’re no longer here. That’s an amazing accomplishment. Don’t be too hard on yourself about how you feel. It’s okay. And if you’re overly happy (genuinely), that’s okay, too! It’s okay to want to enjoy yourself and have a good time in spite of your loss. That’s okay. That brings me to my next point, perfectly.

Number Two: Allow your emotions to remain IN MOTION.

Emotions are meant to show us where we are and how we are really perceiving and dealing with what is going on in our lives. Our emotions are our teachers. They show us how we react to things. They show us what is near and dear to us, and what has the power to affect us. There is nothing wrong with having emotions — they are a part of our nature. The problem comes in when we do not allow our emotions to remain in motion. When we don’t let our emotions stay in motion, we begin to act out of character. We begin to live in our emotions and not in the place of peace and balance that we were created to live in. When you feel those waves of sadness, feel them. Feel them deeply. Pay attention to how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling. Are you sad because of the loss? Are you sad because of regret? Are you sad because you feel like you have to be sad? Are you feeling guilty about not being sad? Do you feel like you don’t have the right to be happy? What’s going on? What are you really feeling? All of these things are lessons that you are to learn from your emotions. Once you figure out why you feel the way you feel, let your emotions pass. Let them go. Don’t allow them to fester or begin to dominate and dictate your behavior. Whether it’s a good emotion or a bad one, feel it and LET IT GO.

Number Three: Match each sad moment with a happy/fun memory.

It is very important to realize that you have the power to shift your experience. Just because you have a bad moment doesn’t mean that your whole day is ruined. Just because you burst into tears while making the macaroni and cheese doesn’t mean you have to cancel the whole holiday. Just allow that emotion to remain in motion and make the conscious decision to follow that sad moment with a happy memory. That is the quickest way to regain your momentum and continue on with your holiday happiness.

Number Four: Incorporate a spiritual practice.

It could be prayer, meditation, coloring, listening to music, etc. Whatever feels good to your soul, do it. Incorporate that into your day. I find solace everything I listed. I love to pray. I love to meditate. Coloring relaxes me and allows me to channel my energy and emotions into transforming something from black and white to vivid colors. It’s a mood changer for me. Music is EVERYTHING to me, so that is ALWAYS in order, whether I’m having a wonderful day or a terrible day. If none of these things resonate with you, that’s fine. You’re an individual. Do what feels good to you and what works best for you. Just make sure that you do something to keep yourself centered and grounded. Go outside and get some fresh air. Put your bare feet in the ground and connect with Mother Earth. Do whatever you need to do. I won’t judge you, and don’t worry about anyone who does. You what you need to do for YOU — YOU are the one having this experience. Just don’t hurt yourself or anyone else in the process. 🙂

Number Five: Check in with your support system. If you don’t have a support system yet, feel free to check in with me.

Please don’t isolate yourself. I’m not saying that you have to spend your whole day around people. I’m not saying that you have to spend ANY of your day around people. You may very well want to be alone and reflect, meditate, have fun or whatever you decide to do. I’m not knocking that. However, please understand that there is a difference in choosing to be alone and isolating yourself. When you isolate yourself, you shut everyone out and you make it impossible to reach you. Although sometimes isolation is necessary, it often works against us when we are going through grief. Be very careful about that. We should never isolate ourselves unless it’s to intentionally focus on receiving clarity or bettering ourselves. It’s not good to shut people out just because we are upset about what is going on in our lives — especially when those people are trying to help us. Even if you feel the need (or desire) to be totally alone, be sure to let your support system know so that they can at least check on you throughout the day. Allow those who are concerned about you to show you their love and concern. That will help with your healing process.

I hope this helps! As I stated, if you have anything to add, feel free to do so in the comments. 🙂

Be Lifted,

Na’Kole

P.S. –> If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, be sure to reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by clicking here or calling 1–800–273–8255. The lifeline is open 24/7, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

P.P.S. –> Here are those additional resources I promised you:

COPE (Connecting Our Paths Eternally): A non-profit grief and healing organization dedicated to helping parents and families living with the loss of a child

WebMD: The Stages of Grief

The National Alliance for Grieving Children: Support and resources

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