Managing Grief During the 2020 Holiday Season
by, Haley Broadaway
This 2020 holiday season will look different for families. The loss endured during this pandemic, whether the direct result of COVID or not, has had a tragic impact. No matter what you celebrate, navigating grief and losing a loved one can prove to be emotionally challenging. It is my sincerest intention to help you get through the holidays while holding space for your grief.
It Is Ok to Be Sad
Permit yourself to be sad. Put aside any expectations of putting on a brave face. If you plan to host or visit family, designate an area to retreat if you begin feeling overwhelmed. If you would like to have someone with you, discuss a grief signal ahead of time so you can withdraw together. It is important to remember grief is a part of healing. There is no time limit or roadmap when it comes to grief. You do not have to pretend to have your emotions under control. The candle that burns in your heart will hold a bright flame of love that will be seen by others. Let your vulnerability shine. The journey is uniquely your own, but you are not alone.
Honoring the Loss
Acknowledging the loss in your way can help, whether it looks like setting an extra place at the dinner table or carrying a meaningful object of the deceased with you. It can be something tangible or a simple prayer. You can share your ritual with your loved ones, or you can hold a private space of your own. Remembering those you have lost, though sometimes painful, helps keep their unforgettable memories alive. Trust that you know what is best for you and your family.
Setting your boundaries while in a state of grief plays a pivotal role in the healing process. Be mindful of your headspace and be gentle when acknowledging your needs. Give yourself grace. You may start out feeling safe in some circumstances. Still, if you suddenly become triggered or a scenario brings up negative emotions, it is entirely within your control to exit the situation. You do not owe anyone an apology or excuse for exercising what is in your best interest. When you practice boundaries, you are showing yourself respect in the most loving way.
Leave Guilt at The Door
While wading in the water of heartache, there will be people who will want to support you. You may feel guilty for asking for what you need, but I invite you to leave the guilt at the door. It is better to communicate than leave needs up to interpretation to those around you. If you feel like you need personal space, take it. Oppositely, if you want help - extend your hand to your support system. Listen to your internal voice.
Grief Is A Teacher
Because your love was unparalleled, your process with grief will be one of a kind. However, there is one universal lesson grief teaches us: Death is a part of life, and with that, each of us will inevitably make the pilgrimage through mourning. In the beginning, you will feel as though you have been thrust into uncontrollable waves. Thoughts of loss and need for closure will crash upon you at times, leaving you breathless. It is natural to want to find sanctuary on the shore, but at your own pace, grief will teach you how to swim. With time, the storm will pass, and the waves will feel less threatening. Grief teaches you to utilize your strengths, and invest in yourself, providing tools to ride the current unafraid. Grief will always be challenging but never impossible to overcome.
Whatever difficulties you face during this holiday season, I encourage you to be mindful of what your grief is attempting to teach you. I hope you nurture your emotional growth and protect your boundaries while cultivating space for yourself as you transition through mourning. Mindfulpath is always here to help. We wish you a peaceful Holiday season.
Haley Broadaway is an AMFT with Mindfulpath who specializes in grief and depression. If you would like to schedule a session with Haley, she can be reached at Haley@Mindfulpath.com or reached by phone at (949) 791-7330.