For me, it’s like being in a fog between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
I go through the motions, but there is no authentic joy. I cringe at most Christmas songs, I don’t have the energy or urge to decorate, and I simply want to run away from it all.
Why should I enjoy the holidays when my loved ones aren’t here? The guilt, at times, is unbearable and leaves me feeling empty and lonely during what is supposed to be, ‘the happiest time of the year.’
Instead of looking forward to celebrating the holidays, I simply dread it.
– CNMA Client
If you’ve lost a loved one, you may be able to understand the above honesty from one of our clients.
Grief at the holidays is real.
It may happen every year for some people for some people or be sporadic for others. It may be paralyzing or mild, acute or chronic. Whatever it may be like, it’s normal, real, and common.
Because so many of us deal with memories (good and bad, nostalgic and wishful), we find that talking about this physical and emotional challenge can be therapeutic and helpful.
Here are 3 tips we have for working through grief at the holidays:
You know the moment. The moment when the wrong song comes on the radio. The moment when you take out the favorite holiday ornament they loved. The moment when flipping through the channels you come across a beloved holiday movie you used to all watch together.
That moment…when you feel like you could just lose it. But you stop for one second, and…
You can either push those feelings down and keep going or you can lean into them and let them out. Our recommendation? Let them out.
Keeping our grief in can manifest in both emotional and physical ways. Specifically, it can cause (but is not limited to):
– feelings of loneliness
– feelings of guilt
– uncontrollable anger
– withdrawal from others
– loss of appetite
– cardiac problems
– hormone imbalances
By letting out our feelings, we can release pent up emotion and stress that can be harmful for our health. We may even begin to process, acknowledge, and mourn the loss of our loved one.
It’s okay to cry! It may just be the best thing you can do for yourself.
It’s easy to say take some time for yourself in which you schedule out when you may have some free time. However, what to do when you do have time for yourself?
Find a Safe Place to Talk – Whether with a close friend or family member, co-worker, neighbor, or professional counselor, it’s important that you have a relationship you can open up freely to and feel safe within.
Slow Down & Relax – Running away from grief can cause exhaustion from trying to keep busy. Making an appointment for acupuncture, a massage, scheduling yoga classes, or indulging in a good book in a warm bath can go a long way in coping healthily through the holidays.
Spend Time In Nature – Nature is a natural, organic environment for life…and death. It can help us comprehend the inevitable and provide us enlightenment for new perspective on our loved ones death and our life without them. Consider a winter hike, snow shoeing a mountain trail, a peaceful day skiing or snowboarding by yourself. Even sitting outside with a cup of coffee among beautiful surroundings can bring a sense of renewed hope.
Supporting our bodies and minds through times of stress and anxiety with natural herbs can be a healthy way to deal with grief at the holidays.
For a sense of more calm, better sleep, and overall we recommend:
– Adaptogen Herbs: Ashwaganda, Holy Basil, Rhodiola, and Eleuthera can help stabilize your stress hormones and bring a sense of calm throughout day and night.
– Sleep Supporting Herbs: GABA, L-Theanine, Melatonin, and a Magnesium/Calcium supplement can help you get a good night’s sleep.
– Instant Calming Herbs: For an instant feeling of relaxation, try a lavender oil pill, chamomile or ginger tea, and GABA supplements may help reduce acute anxiety.
Although grief may never go away, our client from above is an excellent example of someone who has seen us for dealing with her grief and has found peace within herself through acupuncture, herbs, and lifestyle changes.
Are you suffering a loss of loved one? Do you live in Castle Rock, Highlands Ranch, Castle Pines, Parker, Centennial, Larkspur, Monument, or Colorado Springs?
We may be able to help you process your loss in a healthy and positive way. Please contact us for a free 15 minute consultation with Dr. Graves to share your story and see how we can help you through the holidays or any time of the year.