This exclusive webinar focuses on how to deal with the holidays following a loss. It features Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley along with Alan Pedersen, Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends. “You don’t walk alone on your journey,” says Dr. Gloria Horsley, and she knows this can be a very challenging time of year. The holidays bring back the memories, although people grieve all the time. There are a lot of reminders about what you’ve lost, and it’s full of bittersweet memories. “All we think about is what we’ve lost,” says Pedersen, at least in the early stage of grieving.
A lot of well-meaning people will tell you your loved one would want you to enjoy the holidays, but that’s rarely helpful. In the early grieving stage, you just go through the motions. Grief is centered on the person you lost, and you’ll have to “fake it ‘til you make it.” Doing this is considered a success. For Pedersen, they leave out a place setting for his daughter who died, and looking at that empty place setting gets easier over the years.
In the mid grief stage, grief is centered on you and what you’ve lost. Your emotions are very strong, and this might be a great time to make some modifications to your holiday season. In later grief stages, you’re in better control of your emotions or you’ve developed a new holiday tradition. A lot of family/friends will expect that you’ve moved on, but it’s still common to be blindsided by reminders and backtrack to those earlier grief stages.
As for survival tips, let people know early what your holiday routine will be. Pick the holiday activities you want to attend and practice saying no if necessary.