I know grief doesn’t seem very holiday-ish, but it’s been a common topic of conversation with my clients recently, and I thought maybe you or someone you love might be hurting.
If so, I want you to know you aren't alone.
Grief is a powerful human emotion we feel after suffering a loss.
That loss could be the death of a loved one, a breakup, any significant life change, even happy ones like weddings, and the loss of an expectation we might have of ourselves, others, or life experiences.
Right now, many of us are experiencing the loss of how we expected to experience the Holidays.
It all matters.
Grief is an intense emotion, and the holidays tend to magnify our losses.
So, in our holiday hustle and bustle, let’s not forget to acknowledge grief and care for it for ourselves or others.
It could be the most memorable and meaningful gift we give.
The first step is to acknowledge the grief.
That might look like talking about it with a trusted friend, counselor, or coach.
Not talking about it can lead to isolation and depression.
If you’re helping someone else, don’t be afraid to ask them how they’re doing and allow them to talk.
Don’t expect yourself or others to “cheer up.”
We tend to want others to feel good because we care about them but also because it helps us feel more comfortable.
It’s okay to feel uncomfortable.
It’s honoring to the person experiencing grief and to their loss to be with them where they are.
Acceptance can create the space needed for healing.
Allowing ourselves and others to feel and process can help us find peace during difficult times.
The more we honor our grief by accepting it, giving it a voice, and allowing it to be there lovingly and safely, the closer we get to moving forward.
The second step is to be intentional and make a plan.
For instance, well-intentioned friends may not want you to be alone, but maybe that’s exactly what you need.
I remember years ago when I was going through a divorce, and it was my first Christmas morning without my kids.
Many concerned friends invited me to spend that time with them, but I wanted to be alone and have the space to feel, process, and grieve.
I had to let them know what I needed.
And if you don’t want to be alone, speak up and ask for the support you need.
When planning, let go of what others think you should do and focus on your needs.
Planning what you will do and why feels empowering and helps eliminate feelings of dread.
Be sure to plan time to feel and for self-care.
Be prepared to be flexible.
You might make a well-thought-out plan and not feel up to it on the day.
Give yourself and others permission to bow out if you’re not feeling up to it.
We can’t always predict when grief will hit us, and it’s okay to acknowledge and accept it and even speak it out loud if you are with others.
An unexpected wave of grief hit me last weekend during a dinner party.
I held it in at first, but then I shared it with my friends, and their compassionate response was very helpful.
Be aware that traditions can be a source of pain or comfort, depending on how we think about them.
Knowing that you get to decide what to participate in is empowering and helps with the process of grief.
Decide ahead of time what Holiday traditions you want to or don’t want to be a part of.
Unfortunately, grief is part of life.
It’s okay to talk about and normalize it, especially during the Holidays.
Everyone feels and expresses grief differently.
There is no right or wrong way to experience pain, so let’s give ourselves and others grace, compassion, and understanding.
Honor yourself or your loved one.
We grieve because we love, and that’s a beautiful thing.