Generally speaking, any holiday is a time for fellowship and friendship. For many bereaved families, it is also a time of year to remember those that have died and can be a trigger for unresolved grief. So, for those who have recently (or not so recently) suffered a death here are some suggestions on how to deal with the holiday season.
1. I suggest that you spend some time now, if you already haven’t, deciding on what the holiday looks like for you and your family. What are your expectations- not those of society or your friends or family? They are not the ones triggered or grieving.
2. Make a plan which includes how and to what degree you will celebrate this year. This could range from no participation to full participation. You are in control. What is appropriate for you and your family?
3. Identify your triggers and determine if is there a way to avoid them. If decorated houses in your neighbourhood are a trigger, can you take an alternate route? Can you avoid the store aisles that display the seasonal items? Perhaps you won’t purchase tickets for holiday-themed movies at the movie theatre or watch them on Netflix. Perhaps you’ll decline the offer to attend a holiday party this year, of if you do go, decide what that will entail for your level of participation (Plan A and B). Grief takes a lot of the joy and enthusiasm out of you, so this might be the year to take a pass on the celebration. There is always next year.
4. What is your plan for Christmas Eve? Or Christmas Day?
5. If you do decide that you want to decorate your house (perhaps carrying on a tradition with your family that was important) then remember that you are in control, and you decide what is right for your family.
In conclusion, each of us grieves in our own way. Whatever happens this year, whether you are triggered or not, remember that a griever has permission to do whatever feels right to them. Please feel free to reach out to whomever will provide you with the mental wellness support you need.