Coping with Loss over the Holidays

By The Option Group

When you have experienced the loss of a loved one, any day can be a tough day, but the holidays are a whole season of days that span from Thanksgiving into the New Year. We often have warm, fuzzy feelings and expectations of family togetherness, joy and laughter more so at this time of the year than any other. We have traditions surrounding this season and ways of celebrating that may be unique to our families, and these traditions help to build bridges from one generation to the next.

We have all heard that the one constant in life is change, and the year 2020 has certainly proven this over and over again. And so, in addition to possibly grieving the loss of a loved one this holiday, we are faced with the disruptions to our family traditions and togetherness, and to many of the elements that we enjoy about this time of year. It may be helpful to remember that things are always changing in our families from year to year and we are never the same from one year to the next. Our health can change, our finances can change, children grow up and change and move away, job situations change, we get older and lose some interest and ability to do all of things we did when we were younger; there are new members coming in to our families through marriages and births, and loved ones departing this earth through death.

Coping with loss this holiday season requires new rules for now, and possibly new traditions. What is right for this year may not be what is right for next year, just as what was right for last year is not right for this year. Traditions do bind families together, but we need to alter our traditions to meet our needs in this present time. Each stage of life, each new beginning and each loss demands its own customs and rituals. Here are some general tips for handling the holiday season of 2020 for all of us, and especially if you are coping with the loss of a loved one:

  • Set realistic expectations for yourself. Remind yourself that this year will be different and that you are doing the best that you can.
  • Try to stay connected to your loved ones in whatever ways are possible.
  • Allow yourself time for solitude. Focus on your faith and spiritual beliefs, and honor those through prayer, reading, music, and/or enjoying a worship service online.
  • Remind yourself that experiencing laughter and times of happiness during the holidays does not mean that you have forgotten your loved one and does not diminish your love for them.
  • Share stories and memories of your loved one with others, as it will allow them to comfort you and feel that they are helping in some small way.
  • Get plenty of rest and take care of your health by eating well and getting some physical exercise. Avoid using alcohol to numb your pain.
  • Remember that like many things, anticipation of a holiday that you may be dreading is often much worse than the actual holiday itself.
  • Lastly, remind yourself that the holidays are about love—it is the gifts of yesterday blended with the blessings of today that make meaning for tomorrow.
If you or someone you care about needs additional support to help cope with loss this holiday season, The Option Group is here to help. Please contact our professional care management team for assistance.
 

About The Option Group: Our compassionate team of Geriatric/Aging LifeCare Managers (GCM) serves family caregivers, medical professionals, and professional family advisors in Maryland and South/Central Pennsylvania. Caring for an individual who needs assistance due to aging, dementia, disability or serious illness can be challenging. Don’t go it alone. The Option Group has over 75 years of experience navigating the healthcare maze and has access to hundreds of resources to assist you. Spend quality time with your loved one, not researching their care options. You can count on The Option Group to provide clear choices that lead to better care. For more information, please visit www.theoptiongroup.net or call 410-667-0266 (MD) or 717-287-9900 (PA).